Conference Provides a Look into a “Real” Crime Scene

Imagine walking into a deserted building and finding shotgun shells scattered at your feet. The only other evidence is a single footprint of blood.

This is a scenario that students at the University of South Dakota walked into as a part of a conference put on by the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation. The victim was a simple pillow in a tee shirt and sweat pants serving as the touch point for how to properly document and tag a crime scene in a step-by-step process.

At the conference, Dave Stephan and Tyler Neuharth, South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation agents, shared what they learned from an eight-week course at the National Forensic Academy in Tennessee.

They shared many details like being sure to never call something blood until there is total certainty of the nature of the stain. Until then, call the spot a “reddish brown stain” or “suspected blood.” This serves to protect an investigative unit in court.

They illustrated much of what they learned with graphic photos taken at real crime scenes. They even spent time talking about crime scene photography, a segment that took up a whole week of the eight-week course in Tennessee.

Another important note about investigating is making sure that you are in the right place when investigating a crime. Whenever a crime takes place, there is a crime scene. The question is if the crime scene can be found at all.

Students also learned about fingerprinting techniques and how to take a shoe cast. The conference was a success with many criminal science students in attendance, as well as public attendees who were interested in the popular field.