Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

LA Forensics: The Sandwich Shop Murders

Damage Assessment

With James's death, Dr. Rogers had a double autopsy to perform. Although both victims had head wounds, a full autopsy was in order to determine the precise cause and manner of death. The manner of death was clearly a homicide. Time of death was being established with shop records, but the actual death mechanism meant looking for the physiological failure in the body that had caused death, such as lack of oxygen or loss of blood.

Autopsy reports indicated that Brian had been shot once below the eye in the left cheek from close range, from about a foot or so away, and then shot again, with the gun pressed against his head above the right ear. James, too, had a contact wound, but this one was more chilling. The killer had place the muzzle to the crown of his head to shoot him from above, probably while James was kneeling. All three bullets were recovered from the bodies. There were no exit wounds.

Friends who gathered around the shop on Sunday after hearing the news told reporters that Brian and James had been great guys, loyal and generous. Brian often came to the sandwich shop to visit James, and he pitched in, unpaid, with cleaning duties.

Joey Baker as Brian Berry
Joey Baker as Brian Berry

Shop employees said the area felt safe to them, even when they closed alone, because of the police presence close by. Officers frequently came into the shop and they kept an eye on the neighborhood. A patrol car passing by had even foiled a robbery attempt only months earlier.

Nevertheless, someone had certainly been bold and that person was roaming free. Whoever he was, he would have cash. The shop's manager said that the safe had contained about $200, but after looking at the evening's receipts, he estimated the thief's total take at around $580.

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