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Crime Scene Reconstruction

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Reconstructing a crime scene takes a lot of effort from experienced law enforcement, medical examiners, and criminalists. All of these professionals give unique perspectives to develop a crime-scene reconstruction. Forensic scientists also play a vital role in helping to reconstruct the crime scene. They use the crime-scene reconstruction to show events that occurred prior to, during, and after a crime was committed. (Saferstein, 2009) There are many things that these reconstructions can do to aid in investigations. 3-D reconstructions are more advanced and can show real life events based on the evidence. Did you know that a crime-scene reconstruction takes many steps? There are a lot of steps that investigators must take in order to accurately capture a real-life reconstruction of a crime-scene.

Crime-scene reconstruction is the method used to support a likely sequence of events at a crime scene by observing and evaluating physical evidence and statements made by individuals involved with the incident. (Saferstein, 2009) In order for reconstructions to have the best possible results, the investigators need to be sure they collect and document the proper evidence in the correct way. Investigators can use reenactments to help aid them in the reconstruction. There are many things that an investigator needs to be aware of and follow when putting together a reconstruction.

One important thing that every investigator must be aware of is objectivity. This is a manner of professional detachment practiced by individuals to avoid letting personal beliefs or biases affect the conclusions reached through observations. (Saferstein, 2009) If an investigator comes to work on a reconstruction with some expectations, this can cause a negative effect on the process. For this reason all the data and evidence must be continually reevaluated throughout the process of the crime-scene reconstruction.

Deductive reasoning is what investigators strive for. This is the process of drawing a conclusion based on known facts or premises. (Clemens D. W., 2012) When an investigator uses deductive reasoning it allows them to come to a definitive conclusion. Inductive reasoning is the process of drawing a conclusion from premises one does not know are correct. (Saferstein, 2009) This is what can lead to a conclusion that is not definitive.

Investigators should always seek to test falsifiability of theories. Investigators should try to seek and disprove a theory. Those investigators that are working on a crime-scene reconstruction must be aware of all plausible alternatives. (Bennett, 2007) All investigators must keep an open mind to avoid narrowing their view to one or a few possibilities and potentially excluding more plausible scenarios. Keeping an open mind can be done much easier with a group of other investigators to aid you in the reconstruction.

The reconstruction of a crime scene requires a team to work on it because they like to consider many different types of evidence to construct it. The team will work together to find answers to these certain questions, “who, what, where, when, why, and how” of the crime scene. (Clemens D. W., 1998) An Investigator might call on the help of a medical examiner to determine whether a body has been moved after death by evaluating the liver distribution within the body. Once a team is set up then they can start to look at all the physical evidence.

The physical evidence plays a vital role in reconstructing the sequence of events surrounding a crime. Even though the evidence may not describe everything that took place at the crime scene, it can support or contradict accounts given by witnesses and/or suspects. Physical evidence can also generate leads and confirm the reconstruction of a crime to a jury. (Bennett, 2007) The collection, documentation, and interpretations of physical evidence are what put together a reconstruction of the crime scene. The analysis of all the data will help to create a workable model for reconstruction. (Clemens D. W., 1998) Investigators don’t only look at one type of evidence. There is also the direct physical evidence.

With direct physical evidence, it provides investigators with a definite conclusion or direction. This type of evidence employs deductive reasoning to state a fact that can be understood by everyone. For example, if a transfer bloodstain on the clothing of a homicide victim has a DNA type consistent with that of the suspect, the victim must have had contact with the suspect after the suspect was injured and began bleeding. (Saferstein, 2009) With all the evidence that investigators have gathered, they can begin to do some reenactments.

Reenactments are done by live personnel, mannequins, or computer-generated models. Anyone or anything used in a live-reenactment needs to be close to the same size and strength or the actual victim and suspect. (Bennett, 2007) With the reenactments, this allows the investigators to see firsthand if the scenario is even physically possible. This gives them a great look at every option, and helps them to find what really could have happened at a crime scene.

After all the physical evidence had been gathered and they have looked at everything, the final step with the crime-scene reconstruction is the, event timeline. This will define each event that occurred at a crime scene in various probable orders within a known or estimated time frame. (Saferstein, 2009) Most investigators will put this timeline into a chart. The reconstruction, can really help the investigators, and jury to see how the events unfolded during the time of the crime. This can really help to put a suspect away, if all the evidence is there.

New Technology
As years go by there is always new advances happening when it comes to technology. Humans are finding new ways to look at any type of evidence, and find ways to link them together. There is a former officer who found a way to make 3-D reconstructions. With this new advance, you can see a crime scene as if you are there watching the entire crime occur. Schade, has found that he can use a free online program to create a detailed 3-D model of a crime scene, based on the measurements and drawing evidence that are obtained from actual crime scenes. Then, with some modifications to gaming software he can virtually show anyone the scene with a computer mouse.

With the 3-D modeling, prosecutors can’t go in and change angles, zoom in, or do a flyover. The 3-D animation is much better than the regular animation that is typically used. “If I want to walk a jury through a crime scene I really can’t do it with animation because they’re all looking through one camera angle.” Shade said. “Having an interactive way to walk through things and talk to people while doing it is very helpful. (Henshaw, 2012)

Schade spent around 2 years working on his 3-D interactive program. Schade went on to collaborate with two other authors, Elissa St. Clair of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and Andy Maloney if Forident Software, on an article “An Introduction to Building 3-D Crime Scene Models Using Sketchup,” that was published November 20 in the Journal of the Association for Crime Scene Reconstruction. (Henshaw, 2012)

With new advances for crime-scene reconstruction, the 3-D animations that have come about can really show a real life scene that unfolded. This can aid investigators in putting a criminal away. The judge and jury will be able to see firsthand what occurred. There are so many things that investigators must do in order to make sure the reconstruction of the crime-scene is accurate. Objectivity is a main thing that all investigators must be aware of and be able to follow. A crime-scene reconstruction can show the jury what occurred during a crime. This can be the one piece of evidence that the jurors need to put a suspect behind bars.


Bennett, H. B. (2007). Crime Scene Dynamics I & II. Wadsworth: Cengage . Clemens, D. W. (2012, September 09). Importance of Crime Scene Reconstruction: A Case study. Retrieved December 1, 2012, from Crimes and Clues: http://www.crimeandclues.com/index.php/forensic-science-a-csi/crime-scene-inv

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