There are three different crime scenes at the Blank Park Zoo. The very first scene depicts a victim suffering from a fatal head shot, with blood splatter decorating the walls behind him, and clutching a knife. There is a firearm lying in the northeast corner of the body and bloody footsteps lead up to the corpse, but none lead away from it. What happens next?
“Treat this like your investigating a homicide,” DMAAC Kids College co-instructor and Tracy Dow-Wyatt told her class.
Dow-Wyatt and her husband Michael Wyatt are former FBI agents who are now criminal justice instructors at DMAAC. Thursday, the Wyatts taught sixth, seventh and eighth graders as a part of the Newton DMAAC campus’ Crime Scene Investigation course during the Kids College summer program.
The crime scene described earlier is actually a classroom at DMAAC, the blood is construction paper, the knife and gun toys and the victim is a nameless, stuffed ape.
“He gets killed four times a year, it’s easier not to name him,” Wyatt said jokingly.
The CSI class that took place on Thursday was the second portion of the two-day course that started on Tuesday.
“Most of the (kids) have been very interested, and this is stuff they see on TV and they get to do something that they have seen on TV and they like that,” Wyatt said. “I think the big thing is that it’s not easy, it’s not fun, it’s tedious work and it’s good for them to realize that part of crime scene investigation.”
The Wyatts both agree that course difficulty is the same as it is for their college-age students, but it’s condensed into two days. While Wyatt wanted to convey the serious aspects of the job, the kids still seemed to be having fun with course.
“I’ve watched the show and thought it would be cool to learn about,” Chantel Jordan said. “It lives up to the show, but the (process in) the show is way shorter.”
Jordan also talked about some of the things she learned in the course.
“We are learning how to identify evidence,” Jordan said. “Learning about crime scenes and how to not touch stuff, letting people through (to the scene) and making sure it is safe before you let them in.”
Jordan signed up because she was a fan of the show, but Chaison Loupee had another reason for his involvement.
“My dad worked for the Fire Department,” Loupee said. “I used to like to talk to the cops and my dad knows a lot of cops. We go up to the fire station and talk to them all the time. Then, when I saw this class, it made me think, ‘Hmmm, maybe I could be one when I grow up.’”
In the course itself, students learned about bagging evidence, tracking foot prints, tracing blood splatter, and a lot of things that are showcased in the popular TV shows, “Dexter” and the “CSI” franchises.
“You need to document where everything is in case it’s moved,” Kiley Essen said on why you take photos at the crime scene first.
“We learned that it depends on where the blood splatters,” Jerry Hannagan III said. “If someone shoots someone in the head, you can take strings and you can follow it (the splatter).”
Dow-Wyatt seemed to be impressed with the kids.
“They are very attentive and really smart,” Dow-Wyatt said. “They know a lot more than I expected on technical things like why we do things? I’m really impressed.”
This week addition to the CSI course, DMAAC also held a “Things That Fly” carpentry course. Next week on June 24 and 26 they will hold a Body Works/First Aide course and on the 25 and 27 they will hold a Auto Collision/Body Repair course.
All sessions start at 9:00 am and cost $20. For more information contact DMACC at (641)-791-5165.
Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641)-792-3121, ext. 426, or at firstname.lastname@example.org