How much would you remember?

Memory is more a factor of emotion than intelligence

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Vaughn Dixon he doesn't remember much about the man who shot him in January  because it happened so fast.

Dixon said a masked man entered his Boost Mobile store on Kings Road, pointed a gun and opened fire.

"I didn't remember a whole lot. I remember his skin tone. He was pretty tall. He was a young guy," Dixon said three months after the robbery and shooting.

The suspect shot Dixon in the arm, near his elbow. He said the robbery happened in front of several witnesses, but few of them were able to give police a good description.

"You know somebody saw this guy. Somebody saw him. They had to see him. They probably just didn't pay any attention," Dixon said.

Crimes like this happen every day in and around Jacksonville. Maybe a crime has been committed in front of you. How much do you remember? Are you paying attention?

Channel 4 worked with a sketch artist from the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office and set up a scenario with a "victim" and a "suspect" to demonstrate how memory works and how investigators can draw out information from witnesses.

The photo at right shows the sketch produced working with our volunteer victim's description next to a photo of the person who portrayed a suspect.

"A lot of memory is attached with emotion," Greg DiFranza, a former Jacksonville Sheriff's Office investigator and enforcement consultant said. "It doesn't have anything to do with intelligence or personalities. A a lot of times it has to do just with what the emotional state of the person was."

"Your short-term memory is going to be rather fluid. As more pieces of information come in, it drops older pieces of information out. So you need to remember the details earlier on," DiFranza said.

If you are a witness or victim of a crime, DiFranza recommends you quickly write down what you saw and what you can remember. If you're panicked and scared, it will be helpful when it's time to describe what you saw to a 911 dispatcher, and detectives.

"Anybody that sees anything suspicious like that, don't just you know, brush it off. You see a guy, something is just out of place, 80 degrees with a hood on and a mask, I mean chances are he's up to no good," Dixon said.

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