Palmer, Alaska—The State Medical Examiner Office held special training on Tuesday on how to process an outdoor crime scene and properly recover human remains. Members of the Medical Examiner office, along with law enforcement, took part in the training, led by two experts from Washington state- a forensic anthropologist and a deputy sheriff with the King County Sheriff's Office.
In a field in Palmer, the group searched for pretend "scattered remains", flagging and photographing the pieces of evidence as they were found. Searchers pushed metal probes into the ground to bring up potential scents for cadaver dogs to track. Later, five teams were tasked with the job of finding and recovering buried bodies- plastic skeletons that were placed underground over the weekend. It was all pretend, but good practice, says deputy sheriff Kathy Decker with the King County Sheriff's Office.
In the field, it is a team effort. Some people dig while others sift the dirt. There are also sketch artists and photographers. But in the vast state of Alaska, not every crime scene will have a whole team of people. Sometimes the job of processing an outdoor crime scene is left to one or two people.
"It's just interesting to see how hard they work and how they work together and work with agencies on a crime scene all with the same goal in mind- to make sure to preserve and collect evidence and to get the body and determine the cause and manner of death of the body," says Dr. Kathy Raven, chief Medical Examiner.