The Victims The Place Time It Was The Crime The Investigation The Convicted
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The Victims The Place The Investigation Time it was The CrimeThe Convicted

 

An Analysis of the Door to Door Interviews

        Chief Detective Gary Gitchell composed an eleven question survey and sent nine officers out to canvass the neighborhood.  The bottom of the survey read, "Make sure all of this information is written down."  (BOI, p. 70-71)  This didn't happen.  

        In order to analyze the door to door interviews I divided up the canvassing into categories.
  
Total residences.
Houses listed as vacant. 

Response categories:
No answer.
No information beyond name of resident.
Short answer.
Longer answer.
Extended answer.
Questionnaire.

Notes on the analysis.
  • Total residences.  Total residences were the total number of addresses listed in the door to door sheets.  There are some houses in the area that are not included in this counting, i.e., some addresses were skipped over.   For example, the address for Aaron Hutcheson's previous residence is not mentioned in the door to doors.  It does not make the total list or the vacant list in this analysis.  Other addresses which were skipped over were determined by comparing the door to door lists to the city directory.  The reason some houses were skipped is unknown.  They may also have been vacant.  The skipped over houses were few in comparison to those with some notation.  
  • Residences listed as vacant.  These are only the houses specifically listed by the officers as being vacant.  There were two instances of houses listed as vacant on one visit by one officer and then had interviews with another officer.  These were not counted as vacant.  Total houses minus vacant was used to calculate percentage of responses.
  • Responses.  In general residence was categorized by its maximal response.  By this, I mean, if on occasion an officer made notes "no info," and another officer marked down a substantive response, that residency would be categorized by the longer response.
  • No answer.  A residence was counted as no answer if the officer put down "no answer," "N/A," or only a house or apartment number and no further information, not even the name of the resident.  
  • No information.  A residence was counted as no information if the officer put down "no info," "N/I," or only the name of the resident.  This was the most common response.
  • Short answer.  A residence was counted as short answer if the additional information written by the officer could be summarized in a single sentence.  
  • Longer answer.  A residence was counted as having given a longer answer if the additional information required more than one sentence to summarize but still was only several sentences.
  • Extended answer.  A residence was counted as having given an extended answer if the answer was more than a paragraph or equivalent in scope to that of the questionnaire.
  • Questionnaire.  A residence was counted in the questionnaire category if the questionnaire was filled out, either formally in a numbered format, or the same information without the question numbers.

    Door to Door Canvassing

Street Total Vacant No answer No info Brief Longer Extended Questionnaire
E. Barton 82 0 8 60 10 2 2 0
Wilson 30 0 4 10 14 1 1 0
Holiday 33 0 5 23 3 2 0 0
McAuley Circle 17 1 5 7 4 0 0 0
N. 14th 37 1 6 20 7 3 0 0
Goodwin 43 0 11 12 8 1 1 10
Goodwin Circle 20 0 6 9 3 2 0 0
WE Catt 30 3 1 2 4 1 0 19
Proctor 13 0 2 1 0 0 0 10
Little Elton 11 0 2 5 2 0 0 2
Ferguson 15 0 1 3 0 0 0 11
Roy Pugh 15 0 1 3 1 2 0 8
Mayfair S 80 3 28 44 3 2 0 0
Mayfair N 100 3 44 43 9 1 0 0
Total 526 11 124 242 68 17 4 60

The Findings.

        A total of 526 residences were canvassed. This included 180 apartments in the Mayfair buildings and 346 houses.

        Eleven residences were listed as vacant, six of these in the Mayfair. This is probably an undercount and other vacant residences were listed as no answer or not listed at all.

        A total of 124 residences were "no answer." The police had "no response" lists, those houses that failed to answer with the initial pass. These doors were knocked on again, reducing the no answer rate. Other residencies were only queried once. 164 residencies were visited at least twice, usually because there was no answer the first time.   Including all visits, 201 residences were listed as no answer.  This number was reduced with repeat visiting.  

        For 242 residences, no information was given. One reason could be because they had no information to add.  However, this was not always the case.  Often the amount of the information given depended on the officer - this can't be stressed enough. One officer would fill out a lot of information for a particular household, even information that was likely irrelevant. Another officer would give "no info" as the response to almost all of houses visited.  The problems with this approach becomes apparent when the same house were sampled more than once. Sometimes one officer would say "no info" or even "vacant" and another officer would get a potentially vital bit of information or even fill out the entire questionnaire. On one pass Danny Laird was listed as "no info" on another he cited Mark Byers as a suspect and passed on the information that Mark Byers desired to have Chris adopted - a potentially significant bit of information whether it is correct or not.

        Sixty eight houses gave brief answers and another 17 gave longer answers.

        The questionnaire was filled out on sixty houses, just under a twelve per cent rate. Another four residences had extended answers as long as what one might expect on the questionnaire.

         Probably related to the officer, but the best canvassed street was Proctor with questionnaires filled out for 10/13 houses. Second was Ferguson with 11/15.

          Worst was Mayfair North with 44 no answers and 43 no information out of 100 residences.

Copyright 2008 Martin David Hill
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