STAFS Presents Program on Bloodstain Pattern Evidence

Teachers experiment with bloodstain transfer from hands and weapons.
Teachers experiment with bloodstain transfer from hands and weapons.

Forensic science and criminal justice teachers from high schools across Texas were given hand on-lessons in bloodstain pattern analysis during a workshop at Sam Houston State University, College of Criminal Justice.

“I love the hands-on aspects,” said Tamar Powell of the Houston Independent School District. “We can take it back to our students and give them a real world perspective.”

Bloodstain Pattern Analysis uses many disciplines, including biology, physics and math.
Bloodstain Pattern Analysis uses many disciplines, including biology, physics and math
The lessons were brought to life by Celestina Rossi, a crime scene investigator from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, who used photos from real cases to explain how to analyze blood evidence at a crime scene. Bloodstain Pattern Analysis includes many of the disciplines taught in high school, including biology, physics and math.

The two day workshop was sponsored by the Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science Facility (STAFS), a state-of-the-art research and training facility designed to enhance academic and technical knowledge in the application of forensic science to crime scenes and criminal investigations.

In addition to classroom instruction, teachers got hands-on experiments and resources to create and analyze blood spatter in the classroom.

These are examples of arterial spray on a wall.
These are examples of arterial spray on a wall.
“I love it,” said Cheryl Simecheck of the Katherine M. Porter Charter School in Wimberly. “I love being at STAFS. It validates everything, and it’s fun.”

Using simple tools, many that can be found around a classroom, the teachers created and analyzed “evidence” such as:

  • Angled blood stains, which demonstrate the direction and angle from which the blood emanated
  • Blood drops from various weapons on difference surfaces like tile, paper, cloth and carpet, which shows how each one affected the pattern left
  • Arterial spray, which results from an arterial breech in a body
  • Transfer blood patterns, which come from objects used in the crime, such as a knife or screwdriver
  • Impact patterns caused by striking a victim with an object
  • Drip patterns that occur when blood continually drips in the same pool

This is a demonstration of drip bloodstains at different angles.
This is a demonstration of drip bloodstains at different angles.

“I hope they have a good working knowledge of Blood Pattern Analysis so they can explain it to their students,” said Rossi. “Although it is a tough discipline because there are so many factors that go into it, I think that they feel confident to go back to their students and explain the discipline.”

The workshop also demonstrated how to present the results of the analysis to a jury in the courtroom. This includes such elements as an illustration of the crime scene, with doors, windows, and furniture as well as victims, blood stains and other evidence; original crime scene photos; autopsy pictures showing wounds or bruises on the victim; an illustration of the event; and measurements showing the angle and locations of the suspects and victims.

Jeff Philen, a criminal justice instructor at the Klein Oaks School District and former Dallas Police officer, said he would rather come to a training at Sam Houston State University than to a workshop presented by any other professional organization.

“It is geared towards us,” said Philen. “It is very content specific for teachers, and it is very hands-on.”

Throughout the year, STAFS offers trainings for high school teachers and professionals in the field on various aspects of forensic science. Participants can earn continuing education credits, credits from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer s Standards and Training or certifications in forensic discipline. Future workshops include Pattern Evidence, including blood spatter, fingerprinting and trace evidence, on June 11-15 and Advanced Crime Scene Investigation, include CSI processing, entomology, human decomposition, human skeletal recovery and documentation, in June 18-22.

For more information, visit www.cjcenter.org/stafs.

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