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Real-life crime scene investigators will excavate human remains, obtain fingerprints from decomposed bodies and collect insect evidence as part of a course at UT this month.

Twenty-four law enforcement personnel from thirteen agencies across the United States will participate in the five-day outdoor recovery course at UT’s Forensic Anthropology Center from June 8 to 12.

The media is invited to attend an afternoon exercise on Wednesday, June 10.

“Law enforcement personnel get training in crime scene technology, but recovering a decomposed or buried body may not be a normal part of their training, so we fill that gap,” said Dawnie Steadman, director of the center. “With this training, they are better prepared for the range and variation of homicide scenes they will encounter throughout their career.”

Participants will learn the basics of determining time since death, proper insect collection for use as evidence, and the use of entomological data and forensic odontology—the structure and diseases of the teeth. Other topics include the archaeological approach to surface and burial recovery and the use of current technology available to help in recovering human remains.

UT’s outdoor recovery courses broaden the knowledge of law enforcement personnel and reduce the chances for errors that can be made during an investigation, said Josh Mott, an investigator with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office in Daytona Beach, Florida, who will participate in the training. He previously took an osteology course, which focused on skeletons, at the center.

Mott said he works in a large county with wooded areas and law enforcement personnel often come across bones. With the right knowledge, they can quickly determine if the bones are animal or human and whether foul play is involved.

“That can save us a lot of time and resources, which keeps us focused on criminal investigations,” he said.

One of the UT Forensic Anthropology Center’s resources is the Anthropology Research Facility, commonly known as the Body Farm. The Forensic Anthropology Center has been offering courses for medical, legal, and law enforcement personnel since 2006. The courses now include significant hands-on opportunities and participants are in an outdoor setting every day of the training, said Giovanna Vidoli, the center’s assistant director.


Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,