Topic ID #22877 - posted 9/4/2012 1:53 AM

CMU body farm back on track with new director



Jennifer Palmer

Webmaster
CMU body farm back on track with new director
By Emily Shockley
Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Melissa Connor’s neighbors were never at a loss for conversation topics at dinner parties.

They could always bring up the latest news on Connor’s on-going class project, burying pigs on her five-acre property outside Lincoln, Neb., city limits. Connor’s students in the master’s of forensic science program at Nebraska Wesleyan University dreamed up different scenarios for burying the deceased pigs, then studied how the bodies decomposed. Mock crime scene-like scenarios ranged from baby pigs burned in cars to multiple pigs buried inside or outside bags deep enough to protect them from coyotes — and Connor’s dog.

“I probably had 10 graves by the time I left,” Connor said. “The neighbors on either side just thought it was a hoot.”

Depending on their senses of humor, Connor’s new neighbors in Grand Junction may be relieved to learn she plans to do all of her forensic research as Colorado Mesa University’s new director of the Forensic Investigation Research Station away from home at the station. The station, colloquially referred to as the “body farm,” will eventually have human remains placed in various states of burial based on potential crime scene scenarios. Students will research how the bodies decompose and are affected by western Colorado’s high-desert climate. Colorado Mesa will be the fifth university with a “body farm” in the United States and the first one outside the lower-lying, humid South.


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