Crime scene house prepares students for real-life detective work

The unassuming house on UNL's East Campus is the site of multiple (simulated) acts of violence.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – A shocking number of grisly crimes have been committed on the outskirts of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s East Campus, and more are on the way. Perhaps just as shocking as the number and variety of crimes is the fact that this is a good thing.

It all happens at an unassuming house, just on the edge of campus. It’s surrounded by a chainlink fence but otherwise appears to be fairly normal. If you take a closer look, there are definite signs of foul play. Of course, Nebraska’s forensic science students are doing just that, to figure out just what happened at the Crime Scene House, and there are plenty of possibilities.

“We can do anything from break-and-enter cases, to sexual assaults, to homicides”, says Michael Adamowicz, director of the forensic science program. “We can have the students then come into an environment that is much more similar to what they might find in reality.”

This means the program isn’t full of unsolvable puzzles or disjointed bits of crime scene knowledge.

“We try to cover all the categories”, says Assistant Professor of Practice Larry Barksdale. “Fingerprints, footwear, tire wear, bloodstains, shooting, biological evidence, white powders, materials identification. But we try to not make it so that they can’t complete it.”

The outdoor portion of the crime scene, complete with shallow graves, signs of prowlers, a shot-up car, and plenty more, has been in use for a while now. The house, however, is newly available, replacing the old space in Filley Hall.

“The environment is just much more realistic to what a real scene would be”, says Adamowicz. “Then we also have the outside, so the crime scene can actually begin on the outside, and move from the out to the in.”

Those elements combine to become the best practical test of what everyone has learned.

“The house allows us to be more creative and more thorough and kind of connect things together, and challenge the students”, Barksdale explains.

It certainly is the perfect crime, or at least, the perfect crime scene. It may be perfect for others, too. Since students won’t need to be there every day, there’s a chance it could be offered up to law enforcement agencies for their own training. Either way, the Crime Scene House represents a huge addition to the school’s forensic science program.

Categories: Nebraska News, News