Crime Scene Investigator Network

Crime Scene Investigator Network Newsletter

MAY 2021
This month's newsletter is brought to you by the University of Florida

Excavations of Skeletal Remains
From an Anthropological Point of View

Danny Rinehart

Working with the International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP), in Bosnia-Herzegovina, I was exposed to gravesites where different exhumation teams were making recoveries. These sites and many more are being investigated for humanitarian reasons in the hopes of identifying the remains with their respective families.

Excavation of graves
Prior to organizing an excavation of a suspected grave (mass or single) some basic background information about the number or victims, year of burial and type of grave (e.g.: dug hole, natural depression, cave) must be obtained. This information will assist in planning for resources, equipment, number of workers and the amount of time that will be necessary to perform recovery of remains. This is the most critical issue for a successful excavation, and it is imperative that reliability regarding this information is confirmed.

Locating Suspected Grave Sites
Statements of witnesses are not always positive in respect to exact locations due to emotional stress, seasonal changes in topography or landmarks that may have been destroyed, etc., but still are the most important and reliable source of information for general or specific site location of the grave. However, if possible, information should be collected from more than one witness. If the grave's specific location is not known, it may be verified by other means.

Site Assessment
Before the excavation can take place, a preliminary visit to the suspected site is necessary to map the area to be excavated. Above all it must be insured that the area has been cleared of surface debris. Search party personnel need to be briefed on customary elements that indicate the location of a gravesite.

The most useful indicators for a fresh, or new, gravesite are:

  • Differences in type and growth of vegetation — mixed species and disturbed growth
  • Visual changes in ground surface level — depression, cracks, soil compaction
  • Differences in soil composition while probing and coring — less compact, disturbed or showing contact with decomposed remains (the odor produced by sniffing a tip of the probe)

If the grave is older, oftentimes there may be no visible features to indicate a disturbance in the soil. One has to keep in mind that graves can be purposely concealed. It may be necessary to use other means of detection to reveal a general area where a grave may be located.

  • Aerial or satellite photographs
  • Ground penetrating radar (GPR) — may require relatively smooth surface
  • Magnetometer — works over snow and water
  • Metal probe — survey natural compact strata vs. disturbed soil, may bring decomposed scent on the tip of a probe
  • Metal detector — helpful if metal or bullets are in and around grave
  • Cadaver dogs — may be the most effective, even in very difficult conditions, such as very old and very deep graves, when remains are skeletonized or air and ground are moist

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This Month's Featured Resource on the Crime Scene Investigator Network Website

This revised and updated edition is the result of a collaborative effort to present the most up-to-date information about the issues confronting death investigators today. The death investigator is the eyes and ears of the forensic pathologist at the scene. It is hoped that these guidelines, reflecting the best practices of the forensic community, will serve as a national standard.

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New CSI and Forensic Job Announcements

The most comprehensive listing of Crime Scene Investigation and Forensic
employment opportunities on the internet! We typically have over 150 current listings!

To be notified of job openings as they are posted, follow us on Twitter: Job Posting Alerts
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Crime Scene Technician
Wilmington Police Department, Wilmington, North Carolina, USA

Final Filing Date: May 23, 2021
Assist officers with the processing of crime scenes and evidence by responding to crime scenes, documenting scenes, collecting and packaging evidence, photographing, video and diagramming scenes and photographing and fingerprinting arrestees.
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Forensic Technician
Richmond Police Department, Richmond, Virginia, USA

Final Filing Date: May 30, 2021
respond to any and all crime scenes that occur in the city of Richmond and will properly and completely document these crime scenes using photographs, notes and sketches. Searching, comparing, and evaluating latent and known fingerprints collected as evidence;
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Forensics Technician
Portsmouth Police Department, Portsmouth, Virginia, USA

Final Filing Date: May 30, 2021
Identifies, collects, preserves, documents, and processes physical evidence independently from complex crime scenes, and victims and suspects; collects latent fingerprints; photographs and sketches crime scenes; maintains chain of evidence; processes and maintains digital images;
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Evidence Technician
Colorado Springs Police Department, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA

Final Filing Date: May 28, 2021
Retrieve and transport evidence, property, and items for destruction from/to all police divisions. Identify proper storage locations for various types of items, including flammable lockers, refrigerators, freezers, firearms, and narcotics as well as general storage.
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Forensic Scientist - Firearms & Toolmarks
Virginia Department of Forensic Science, Norfolk, Virginia, USA

Final Filing Date: June 1, 2021
Responsible for examining, comparing, and evaluating a wide variety of items such as various firearms, unfired ammunition, fired ammunition components, clothing, tools and objects bearing toolmarks.
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Forensic Laboratory Director
San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, Redwood City, California, USA

Final Filing Date: June 4, 2021
Manage, plan, organize, coordinate, direct, and evaluate the activities and personnel of the forensic laboratory.
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Crime Lab Forensic Scientist 1 - Toxicology
Metro Nashville Police Department, Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Final Filing Date: June 14, 2021
Completes training program. May perform casework. Participates in quality assurance/quality control measures. Performs administrative duties. Participates in professional development. Interacts with the judicial system.
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Latent Print Examiner
Lake County Crime Laboratory, Painesville, Ohio, USA

Final Filing Date: June 1, 2021
Responsible for examining, processing, comparing, and evaluating a wide variety of items for friction ridge evidence. Document, evaluate, analyze and preserve evidence and utilize various comparison techniques while maintaining the chain of custody. Must be willing to cross train in Firearms and Toolmark analysis and crime scene processing.
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