Assignment 1: Forensic Anthropology Case Study: Dr. Tracy Rogers
What is the point of this assignment?
o In first year you are generally told that you can’t use textbooks to
o So we want you to use original sources first year.
o In second year, we want you to be familiar with journals.
o There are different types of journal articles.
o Your professors will want you to utilize the research articles because
these are the ones that are experimental, correlation and most
o There are shorter articles too. Technical notes test and validate one
o Another kind of short article is brief communication. These articles
usually address an issue instead of addressing a technique. It usually
addresses something that was maybe addressed in another article.
o The last kind is a case study, which focuses on usually one, two, three
or four specific examples of something in your field. So a specific case,
and from that specific case you are hopefully able to generalize and
learn something larger.
o Case studies can be presented at a conference too.
o Case studies tend to be used in situations where it’s difficult to do an
experiment. E.g. think about medicine and think about how difficult it
would be to do an experiment on a disease. Psychology experiments
can also be difficult.
o Case studies are told in narrative format, it’s basically a story about a
particular individual or circumstance. It’s very interesting from that
o The thing to remember is that a good case study should not just be
entertaining, it should be informative. You need to learn something
from a case study.
o We want you to start thinking about what makes a good case study.
This is the point of the assignment.
o You want to be able to distinguish a good case study from a poor one.
o One way you can tell that it’s a good case study is that right off the top
they tell you what the purpose is. There should be a very clearly
o There are often two prime purposes to a case study.
o Generally, you might find that a case study might provide guidance to
you in a unique situation. E.g. a rare disease, how will they recognize
the symptoms and stuff? These case studies help doctors recognize
o The second component is that there may be a lesson there. It’s not the
specific circumstances that they are trying to tell you about primarily.
They are trying to tell you a lesson they learned from this case and it’s
a lesson you can take with you. o You have to ask yourself when you are reading a case study, what is
the message or what is the lesson the author wants you to take from
this? If it’s just telling you an interesting story, but it’s not a valuable
case study for you to utilize.
Purpose – Three Main Points
o There are 3 main points.
o The first is that assumptions can be misleading. People don’t always
realize how easy it is to assume things. You start assuming things
right from the first time you hear about something. You really need to
think about those assumptions you are making and stop yourself and
o The second is that unique scenes require unique solutions. We have
our typical kinds of processes that we use, we like to things to
progress in a very particular way. There are going to be cases where
standard is not going to work. You can lose evidence by trying to do
things the standard or the usual way.
o The third is that importance of critical thinking in crime scene
investigation. Today’s case study will show you how we utilize critical
thinking to help me figure out how to approach the case and what I
needed to do to collect the evidence in the most useful way.
Initial Phone Call – Initial Assumption:
o You are going to start building a mental picture and you are going to
start assuming things the first time.
o So in this case, my initial phone call about the case that came from
police officers in US Minister when I was living out in BC. They asked
me if its possible to distinguish cemetery remains from recent illegal
burials? I said to them “Yes, you can do that”. Immediately I started
thinking about typical cemetery environments.
o So first of all you can have a grave that happens to erode. The older
cemetery that’s build on a hill is most common. A grave eroding, or a
grave robber or vandal. Someone who has desecrated a grave and
some bones has been exposed. Finally, the other alternative I was
thinking about was situation where cemetery is restructuring.
Cemeteries can legally move bodies and put them in other areas. If
they need to expand and put roadways, then they are allowed to move
bodies. And when they do that, there are no specific guidelines in how
they have to do that.
o Arrived at scene expecting fragmented, old bones near head stone or
hill. The Scene:
o She encountered something else.
o It was not in the main area of the cemetery, it was in the maintenance
area of the cemetery. It was not the burial area. It was where they
keep the dump in. This shaft is about 2.5 Meters deep and it was dug
by a backhoe. There was a coffin shaped object still dirt covered. Right
beside the shaft was the backfill sprinkled with tissue, bone, hair, and
cheap coffin handles.
First Question When Tissue, Bone, body Part Discovered
o We have to immediately address the issue of whether or not this
material is human.
o Is it Human? This is the first question.
o Generally it is easier to determine if something is human by looking at
o Rogers tends to prefer to always work with the bone.
o The first step in this process is to try to find recognizable features.
o Sometimes I have cases where there’s a lot of decomposing tissue and
its impossible to tell anything in that tissue. Sometimes you must feel
the bone’s shape through decomposed tissue.
Arrived at Scene 4 pm in Winter
o It was getting darker and Rogers expected a quick trip.
o In fact, it was an unusual circumstance. The bone was greasy and had
a texture to it that meant that it was recent bone. This meant that they
were dealing with a forensically significant case.
o In this case, because they have human remains that are recent, it
means that it is forensically significant.
o It had been raining and the grave shaft was full of water.
o You are going to need to pump out the water in such a way that you
wont damage or lose evidence.
o In this case, we arranged the city to come in and pump this out.
o It started to rain again while this was going on. Added more
o What happens to large mounts of soils that get wet in r