GCU's forensic photography course teaches students crime scene investigation skills

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

The forensic science program at Grand Canyon University has added forensic photography to its offerings and we got a chance to go in with students as they advance their crime scene investigation skills.

If you've ever watched the TV series "Dexter," then this process might look familiar to you.

Dexter made it famous.

It's called blood splatter stringing.


Essentially GCU's lab is covered with blood spray on large pieces of paper.

Students then attach a string to each individual drop, then use complex calculations and the evidence to determine the angle of the weapon and force of the attack.

Once complete, all strings lead back to the exact position of the victim at the time of the assault.

This process is not used as much today as in the past.

Nowadays, crime investigators quickly take photos and process everything back at the lab.

However, GCU forensics associate professor Melissa Beddow says it does help get a good grip on how to process the crime scene without computer technology.

"This is used more so for a visual for juries. I think 70% of people are visual learners and so by actually showing where all of those bloodstains came from. It lets the jury see actually the physical position where the victim had to be in order for those bloodstains to get there," said Beddow.

This scientific, forensic photography ensures everything in the photo is something that is documented, all to aid in processing the crime scene.

We also talked with GCU sophomore Hannah Lenthall, who interns with the medical examiner's office.

She says much of what she's learned in this class is exactly what she sees investigators do when she's at murder scenes.

"I drive the investigators to the scene and then i take all the photos for them, we take a certification course to make sure we take the photos right, then we prep the body bag and put the body in the body bag," said Lenthall.

"What is that like," asked CBS 5 This Morning anchor, Preston Phillips.

"It's weird at first," responded Lenthall, "but then it just becomes like a routine and you get kind of used to it," Lenthall said.

She says she expects she'll use it one day when she becomes a real crime scene investigator.

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