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Outdoor Crime Scene Reconstruction: From Scene to Courtroom

Primary Course Instructors: Dennis Dirkmaat, Ph.D., D-ABFA; Joe Adserias-Garriga, DDS, Ph.D., D-ABFO; Sp. Agent Michael J Hochrein, FBI, Ret.; Luis Cabo, MS; Tpr. C. Todd Jester, OSHP, Ret.; and, Cpl. Christine Lench, PSP, Ret.

This course will cover all of the components of a successful investigation of human remains found in an outdoor situation (Outdoor Crime Scene Reconstruction) which ultimately will provide scientifically-defensible hypotheses of events surrounding the death and emplacement of an individual at the scene.


Included in the week-long course, will be detailed discussion and in some cases, hands-on experiences:

  1. Discussions of the expectations and needs of law enforcement and medicolegal entities from forensic anthropologists involved in the case

  2. Details of how the forensic scene is comprehensively documented through forensic archaeological principles and practices that will include state-of-the-field crime scene mapping protocols and technologies, notations of context, and construction of hypotheses of Association

  3. Descriptions of how the scene is ‘interpreted’ through Forensic Taphonomy (including PMI estimation, identifying forensic taphonomic agents impacting the evidence, describing the sequence and timing of events that have taken place during the taphonomic interval, i.e., emplacement through discovery)

  4. Detailing the latest analytical methods employed to provide the biological profile, and skeletal trauma interpretations.

  5. Critical thinking discussions on how to meld the information obtained from the scene with evidence analysis acquired in the forensic anthropology laboratory into a reconstruction of events from the death event to discovery

  6. Perspectives on how to create a Final Report for the medicolegal, law enforcement, and jurisprudence communities.

  7. Perspectives of how to present the forensic evidence and defend hypotheses in court.


The course will be based on an actual forensic case involving an individual found in the deep woods of Pennsylvania. Throughout the course, we will attempt to establish the identity of the remains found, estimate the time frame of deposition, and reconstruct the circumstances surrounding the death of this individual, including the skeletal trauma analysis. We will discuss how to process the scene, how to analyze the evidence associated with the Death Event (especially the human tissues), document and interpret the evidence of skeletal trauma, how to construct hypotheses of past events, and eventually how to effectively present them in court.

Erie, PA

July 24 - 28, 2023

Approved for 8 hours of PA Coroner's CE Credit

Approved for 40 hours of IAI crime scene credit and 40 hours of ABMDI credit


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Download our syllabus here

Audience: Students of Forensic Sciences, Law enforcement, Medicolegal professionals, Criminal Law attorneys, Crime Writers and other interested. Must be 18 years of age.

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