NATIONAL FORENSIC ACADEMY

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1 The National Forensic Academy's goal is to prepare crime scene investigators to recognize key elements of a crime scene and to improve the process of evidence recovery and submission. The ten-week intensive study of classroom, lab and fieldwork is broken into weekly courses of hands-on crime scene training. Topics include homicide investigation, weapons of mass destruction, vehicle explosions, arson fires, blood splatter analysis, evidence processing, advanced crime scene photography, and crime scene management and organization. The academy hosts a world-renown faculty of seasoned specialists in the varied fields of applied forensics. Teachers include professors of anthropology and serology, chief medical examiners, chemists, professional photographers, and law school professors. One of the most famous courses/laboratories of the Academy's curriculum is the full week of study in human remains decomposition and recovery at the world famous "Body Farm," the creation of Dr. William Bass, anthropology professor at the University since 1971, and the leader of a team of premier experts in human body decomposition. I had the great pleasure of being instructed by Dr. Bill Bass while at the NFA along with Dr. Arpad Vass, who is the world leader in TIME SINCE DEATH, and Dr. Jantz who is now the coordinator of the Anthropological Research Facility (i.e The Body Farm). Dr. Jantz supervised as my team and I recovered scattered bones in one exercise at the Body Farm Page 1

2 Dr. Arpad Vass supervised as my team and I recovered evidence and remains during the buried body recovery exercise: Page 2

3 We also attend classes at the Nashville City Morgue. During this instruction, new techniques and chemical compounds are used to lift fingerprints from surfaces that previously had not been suitable for analysis. One example is the lifting of fingerprints from the skin of a cadaver: During the arson portion of our Academy, fire cells, houses, and vehicles were burned to allow the students to see how fire consumes a structure and learn the best way to collect and preserve evidence. Fire fatality investigation is also included: Page 3

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6 NFA students are challenged by crime scenes involving blood. We used real human blood to observe how blood stains are formed by the actions of the suspect and victim. Class instruction included trigonometry coupled with hands-on practicals recreated from instructors actual casework: Page 6

7 One of the most exciting portions of the Academy for me was bombs and bobby traps. We were instructed on how bombs were made, what key elements were needed for bombs to actually be effective, and we experienced actual bombs being detonated: Page 7

8 The University of Tennessee's National Forensic Academy combined the elements of a simulated plane crash, real bomb detonations and a trail of drugs and murder in a training exercise made possible by internationally acclaimed author Patricia Cornwell. NFA students worked into the afternoon on July 20 at UT's Forest Research and Education Center in Oak Ridge to piece together parts of a puzzle - a drug deal gone bad and a complicated crime scene - that serves as their final exam. Cornwell arranged for a helicopter to lift an aircraft fuselage and drop it 150 feet into an open field. Two explosives detonated on the ground - a briefcase bomb on the plane and a simulated suicide bomber. The event drew many observers from the region's police and fire departments and rescue squads, as well as national media. Page 8

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10 NFA staff worked with Josh Wolcott, a graduate assistant in the UT School of Art sculpture program, to create life-like bodies to use in the plane crash and bomb scenario. Using ballistics gel, the school made a mold to produce a life-sized dummy that more closely represents a human than props the NFA has used previously. For more photos click here Page 10

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