Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Body Farm

Breaking Ground

Recent developments in response to Bill Bass's work involve plans for more research facilities in the U.S., and even one abroad. The second "Body Farm" has already opened in North Carolina, but as similar plans moved forward in Texas, a peculiar problem arose. Let's first look at NC's contribution.

Logo: Western Carolina University
Logo: Western Carolina University

In Cullowhee, North Carolina, the Western Carolina Human Identification Laboratory opened in 2006 at Western Carolina University, run by the program there in forensic anthropology. Land across from the campus had been recently purchased for the "decomposition research station." The value of this facility is to direct research specific to the surrounding terrain and environment, as well as to train cadaver dogs on the odor of human remains. According to their Web site, the facility is equipped for:

Western Carolina Human Identification Laboratory
Western Carolina Human Identification Laboratory

  • routine micro and macroscopic analysis and description of bone
  • removal of soft tissue for dry bone analysis
  • thin sectioning of bone and histological aging
  • casting
  • maintaining chain of evidence
  • state of the art GPS survey and recovery of human remains
  • burned bone and cremation analysis
  • bone trauma replication and assessment

Logo: Texas State University
Logo: Texas State University

The next university to move from the talking stage into action was Texas State University — San Marcos. They hoped to have their own Anthropological Research Facility open by the fall of 2007, to make it part of the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State (F.A.C.T.S.). They even boasted that they were setting up the largest facility in the world, devoting a full 17 acres on Texas Highway 21. But then something occurred that had not been fully factored into the equation.