"While in the process of researching his novel, The Drop, Michael Connelly invited two veteran homicide investigators with the LAPD to room 79 at the Chateau Marmont Hotel. It's the same room in the novel that becomes a crime scene after an unexplained death. Connelly asked Detectives Rick Jackson and Tim Marcia to tell him how they would handle the scene. Many of their suggestions were used in the book."
CONNELLY: Okay, come on in. Okay, we're in, um, room 79, Chateau Marmont. This is the actual room where, um, in my book, um– uh, the victim's going to have been in this room. And the set up is that Harry Bosch is called off of another case to take over a case that's already three, four hours into investigation. And the man who was in this room is on the ground seven floors below. He's fallen, or been thrown, or slipped from that balcony, and Harry has to find out what happened. Which of those three possibilities is– is the case.
Uh, his bed has not been slept in. So there's very little to go on, and I'm interested in hearing from you guys how you would approach this case. What would– what would you do?
JACKSON: First of all, what time– what time...is it, uh, when he checked in? And was he here just that night?
CONNELLY: Yeah. They got a phone call from some– someone saying it was him. His name is George Irving. Someone saying, "I'm George Irving. I want a room on the– as high up as I can get it. Balcony preferred." And, uh, he gave a credit card to reserve it, and then he didn't show up to take the room `til 9:40pm. And he checked in with that credit card, and there is video over the check-in station of him– of the real guy signing in for this room.
And then he goes up into the elevator, and no one's seen him again until an employee coming into work at 5:00am finds him down there on the– on the concrete. It's kind of a remote section there, and the employee entrance is around here behind the back of the Hotel. And they don't know how long he's been laying there.
CONNELLY: Um, of course, cars have gone– could have by and seen him, not seen him, or we got– we back up to residential section here. And, uh, so it's not clear what happened between 9:40 when he checked in and about 5:00am when he was found.
[CONNELLY, JACKSON & MARCIA EXIT ONTO BALCONY]
CONNELLY: Alright, so obviously this is the, uh– where I want this to happen, and– and, you know, I have the city view here and the town view, I guess you'd call it. And, um, so the guy's found directly below here. This is the wrap-around street behind the Hotel, so there'd be traffic in the middle of the night, but it might be traffic goes by fast enough a guy could be laying down there in a pile basically of, um, flesh and bones, and, uh, not be seen `til someone walks up there to go to work.
And, uh, there's going to be a chair out here like this –
[CONNELLY MOVES CHAIR]
CONNELLY: – and, uh, a bathrobe. And, uh, you know, some– to me, that indicates suicide: you know, someone takes it off, jumps naked into the night. But Harry has to be sure. Uh, we have this apparatus here; um, there's a– this fire escape goes down, so there's– there's possibilities that Harry's going to see, you know, that, uh...this guy may have gone into the room alone, but it doesn't necessarily mean he was by himself. There's– there's other ways that– to get into this room, where–
CONNELLY: –that are not caught on, uh, security cameras and so forth.
CONNELLY: Uh, so there's a lot of open-endedness to it, and, uh– is there anything that you could do to narrow down what happened out here?
JACKSON: Yeah. Um, couple things. First of all: obviously with the, um, fire escape, it looks like it's pretty good paint for prints, you know, and there may be other prints already there, but you're going to still take them just in case something develops later and you have somebody you want to build to compare those prints in case the access was through the fire escape, or from the roof. Um, and this is...[EXAMINES CONCRETE BARRIER]...not real rough: you could even get prints off of this, actually.
MARCIA: You could. That's true.
JACKSON: In certain areas.
JACKSON: Yeah. You could get prints off this in certain areas. Um, then out here is a little rougher, so obviously if your body is getting pushed up against this and there's movement, you're going to have abrasions, you might even have some–
JACKSON: –discoloration a little bit with the dust and the roughness on here, the paint. Um–
CONNELLY: But that–
JACKSON: –so, you need–
CONNELLY: None of that would be conclusive, though, right? I mean, even if you wanted to go over this, you might...I mean there's–
CONNELLY: –also hesitations involved in suicides and all that.
JACKSON: Yeah. Yeah. Uh, but still, you want to know– and also, you're going to want to test...yeah...that's a long way down...um...you're going to– you're going to still want to test that back here and– and take a swab or whatever, just in case you could come up with some skin cells or whatever.
MARCIA: And– and to go back to what Mike was just saying: if somebody's going to commit suicide from here, they're not going to go from here. They're going to stand on this, and free fall over the top. I mean: most likely. So if you do find injuries or any bruising or abrasions like Rick is talking about, now you're talking about a whole different scenario. It's starting to build towards this may go into another direction.
JACKSON: Knowing Harry, he's going to exhaust everything potentially that he can get from out here. Um, you're going to– he might do some...you know, testing out here for footprints and things like that. Multiple footprints, and...
MARCIA: But the hard part on a situation like this is that, because it is, uh, a hotel, and it's a well-traveled hotel, that you're going to come up with a lot of stuff.
MARCIA: You have a lot of door-knocking to do here, because both Rick and I worked Hollywood, and knowing the people that live in these Hills, I can guarantee probably you at least half of these people, at their panoramic view window, there's a telescope.
MARCIA: And so you're going to– you're going to– especially these close ones. You're going to be–
JACKSON: Lot of people up–
MARCIA: –knocking on their doors.
JACKSON: Lot of people up here stay up late at night. They're, you know, the Hollywood...
JACKSON: Night– yeah, they– they're up late.
CONNELLY: [POINTS] Like there's a guy up there standing on a wall.
[LONG SHOT OF MAN STANDING ON WALL]
JACKSON: Think back on the Manson case. You know, there was some shots heard from people that weren't even close by, because of the canyons, and the calls came in, and those connected up later. So you may hear– they're may be something up there that's heard that for some reason isn't heard down here. I don't know. Or maybe somebody bothered to make a phone call from up there. So you just don't know, but you check communications for anything during that period of time for any kind of, uh, you know...
MARCIA: Something unusual.
JACKSON: We already talked about the fingernails. Fingernail scrapings that the coroner's going to get. They're going to do a– a good work-over on that, just in case there was some kind of a struggle.
CONNELLY: Well it's also like a double crime scene. You've got to check everything here, then– what would you do first? Would you start here and go down there, or would you start down there and come up here?
MARCIA: You always work–
CONNELLY: Or would you split up your partnership?
MARCIA: We'd probably split, but you always start with the body, and work out.
JACKSON: Well, you need to do that, because this is contained.
JACKSON: That's out on the street. You want to clear that, for a lot of reasons, as soon as possible. Um...
MARCIA: One of the real important things, as far as where the body's located, is the distance, because if it does play a part that he was pushed, then when it comes time for trial, you're going to have to build your case from that push. You know what I mean? If a defense attorney is going to try to say it's a suicide and defend their client, well, I want to know the distance that that guy, uh, fell. Like, I think Rick said earlier: did he fall straight down, or did he jump? Well most people that are going to commit suicide, they don't just fall straight down.
MARCIA: There's going to be an angle. Um, so if the body's still there, one of the things that you're going to do is...distance.
JACKSON: Basically, what they would do in a situation like this, where they're really going to go over the body– and you might do a visual inspection just to get a– but you wouldn't move him around too much out here. You put him in– contain it, so everything's contained in plastic so if there's any fibers or hairs or whatever, um, that it's going to be contained within–
CONNELLY: As in...evidence.
JACKSON: –what he's wrapped in, and then the body will be worked–
MARCIA: At the coroner's office.
JACKSON: –uh, at the coroner's office. Um...so...uh...
MARCIA: And then you make your move back up here.
JACKSON: And then– yeah, `cause like I said: this is already– this is always controlled. Matter of fact, what you would probably want to do is talk to the Hotel and say, "listen, we want this room left unoccupied for the next several days at least."
JACKSON: And, um, you know, you put a seal on the door.
CONNELLY: Alright, I think that's, um...I think I covered everything I want– I mean, I don't know if you guys have anything further.
CONNELLY: Um, I guess the last thing is: which one of you guys wants to go up the ladder.
[MARCIA POINTS AT JACKSON]
JACKSON: Well, I'll tell you what: this should be checked. Somebody up here. It wouldn't be me. I don't like heights.
JACKSON: I remember one time, I handled a– a killing at, uh, right out in front of the Brown Derby, and the knife...we thought maybe it got tossed up on the roof, and it was like a twenty-five-foot height. So I had a young officer climb up this ladder–
JACKSON: Twenty-five...no. I wasn't going.
CONNELLY: Always have the young partner do that stuff.
JACKSON: I wasn't going.
CONNELLY: Alright, I'll make sure Harry sends his partner.
JACKSON: Rain gutters.
MARCIA: See if there's anything in the rain gutters.
JACKSON: A clue in the rain gutters.
CONNELLY: Alright, cool, thanks a lot.