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Online Outdoor Crime Scene Reconstruction: Introduction and Overview 

Primary Course Instructors: Dennis Dirkmaat, Ph.D., D-ABFA; Michael J Hochrein, Special Agent FBI, Ret.; Luis Cabo, M.S.; and Diana Messer, Ph.D.

This continuing education course is intended to provide participants with a brief overview of what protocols are utilized in outdoor crime scene recovery and reconstruction.

Outdoor Crime Scene Reconstruction (OCSR) attempts to produce scientific-based hypotheses of what has happened at an outdoor forensic scene (surface-scatter, buried body feature, fatal fire scene, mass disaster scene) since the Death Event or victim Emplacement Event, and specifically the roles that humans have played. This course will focus on how best to process these outdoor forensic scenes to produce the most accurate reconstructions of past events. 

After an introduction to the field of forensic anthropology (including forensic osteology, forensic archaeology and forensic taphonomy) presenters will take you through the basics of large-scale searches for forensic scenes, as well as detailed hands-and-knees search and denuding efforts to uncover evidence in situ. Next, thorough documentation protocols (written, photographic, and cartographic) will be detailed. Approaches, methods and benefits of hand-drawn plan view maps of the evidence distribution, electronic total station-generated maps, and GPS notation of the location of the scene for incorporation into GIS, will be discussed at length. Actual forensic cases involving the recovery of outdoor crime scenes will be presented throughout the course.

This course will be presented by Dr. Dennis Dirkmaat and Michael Hochrein, with the assistance of Deputy Coroner John Ackerman (Westmoreland County, PA), providing an additional insight into the use of cadaver dogs in large-scale searches; and Dr. Diana Messer (Western Carolina University), detailing the importance of forensic significance in outdoor searches.

You will be able to proceed at your own pace through the lecture series which will be available through the Teachable online platform. In order to obtain continuing education credit, HD Forensics is utilizing software provided by Teachable to monitor the percentage of video viewed. Participants must view 90% of a module video in order to progress on with the course. If you are interested in receiving CE credit through another organization, please let us know and we will look into it further.

Participants are encouraged to email questions to or Live Q&A Sessions can be created with the instructors if requested.

Upon finishing Outdoor Crime Scene Reconstruction: Introduction and Overview, we suggest continuing on with Outdoor Crime Scene Reconstruction: Advanced Methods Pt I and/or Outdoor Crime Scene Reconstruction: Advanced Methods Pt 2!

Available Now


*Approved for 8 hours of PA Coroners Continuing Education Credit*

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