Bodies We've Buried

Bodies We've Buried

  • Inside the National Forensic Academy, the World's Top CSI Training School
  • Jarrett Hallcox and Amy Welch
  • Forensics/True Crime

These things all have a tendency to link together.

I became a fan of Patricia Cornwell in the latter half of the nineties and I read a book of her’s called The Body Farm, this was in fact the first Cornwell book that I read. I can’t remember how I came about buying the book, possibly it was a review I’d read somewhere, I don’t know. Reading that book made me think that such a place as The Body Farm couldn’t possibly exist. It is gruesome to say the least that bodies are left out in the open, or buried in shallow graves, but even more disturbing that the bodies have been donated willingly and this is all being done to aid our understanding of how cadavers decompose in various situations. From that book I read Death’s Acre, a factual account by Bill Bass, detailing how The Body Farm research facility came into being and how it is still the only one of it’s kind in the world.

Bodies We’ve Buried describes the course run at the National Forensic Academy which also includes several days at the Body Farm. Just reading that it’s a 10 week course I immediately start to think if I could have 2 and a half months off as unpaid leave… it probably wouldn’t go down too well at work. You have to be a member of the law enforcement community and - if I remember correctly - have to be recommended by someone of a higher rank.

So what do I know now that I didn’t know before:

  • That you can take plaster casts of foot or hand prints that have been left in a fine powder.
  • That having to leave finger prints on a cadaver to be found later by the students isn’t the greatest job in the world.
  • That maggots will travel 5 to 6 feet due north from a buried food source before turning into pupa.
  • That there are 10 different bloodstain patterns: drip, flow, splashed, projected, satellite, cast-off, wipe, swipe, transfer and impact.

That you should never trust bomb experts. Sergeant Van Bubel, who - from his description - sounds like a cross between Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore and Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, walked into the class, seemed angry, started to pick a fight and declared that he wanted to end it all. He opened his jacket to reveal an array of pipe bombs strapped to his chest and promptly detonated a smoke bomb. Surprisingly all the students took cover.

If you’re interested in criminology and forensics, if you watch cop shows or read detective stories, then it just doesn’t get any more real than this.

Related Links
National Forensic Academy
University of Tennessee: Forensic Anthropology Center
Body farm - Wikipedia

  • Reviewed on Thursday, 08 July 2010
  • Tagged with book review