Sunday, July 20, 2008

CSI helped police solve murder

US police solved a mysterious death after discovering uncanny similarities to an episode of TV's CSI.

When Thomas Hickman was found dead in a remote part of New Mexico, with a gunshot wound to the back of his head and duct tape covering his mouth, it looked like an execution-style murder.

But then police found a bunch of balloons tangled in a nearby cactus with a gun tied to the ribbons, reports the Daily Telegraph.

Fans of CSI recalled a similar scenario from a 2003 episode of the series in which balloons were used to make a gun float away after a suicide and urged the police to take a look.

"We weren't aware of the CSI episode," said Lt. Rick Anglada, of New Mexico state police.

"But the lead investigator continually heard stories that there was an episode similar to that and about a month later he actually rented the episode and viewed it."

It led officers to suspect that Mr Hickman had committed suicide but tried to make it look like murder by letting the gun float away.

"However, it was very windy that night so we believe the wind kept the balloons down, dragging across the ground and they began popping and eventually the ribbons became tangled up in a cactus," added Lt Anglada.

There were other signals the 55-year-old has taken his own life. Police spotted no signs of struggle in the field where he was found and his car remained untouched.

At his home in Texas they found metal shavings in his garage where he had used a hack saw to remove the gun's trigger guard, presumably to make it lighter.

Police were able to verify he had bought the balloons and the gun and they found notes left for his family telling them what to do in case anything happened to him.

They also found a life insurance policy that would pay his wife around $400,000 dollars or double that if his death was accidental. Investigators this week officially ruled the death a suicide and closed the case.


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