FORENSIC CHEMISTRY LABORATORY MANUAL

by R.Q. Thompson; Oberlin College

CRIME STORIES -- VEHICLES FOR FORENSIC INSTRUMENTAL ANALYSIS

These stories are written to provide the backdrop for chemical analyses of crime scene samples, such as blood, paint, and powders. The stories can have different conclusions depending on how the evidence is set up and how the students perform in the laboratory and in presenting their results (e.g. at a mock trial at the end of the project).

Each story page includes lists of the evidence to be provided to students and techniques employed, a link to information (background of the case, police report, coroner's report, statements from witnesses and suspects, map, etc.) for students to use, and an example of how the evidence might be set up to support a particular scenario.

 

THE CASE OF BLOODIED BULLY

A man was found dead in his apartment, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. A fire in the apartment had alerted neighbors. It could be suicide or murder. Murder suspects include a drug dealer, an abused woman friend, and the friend's mother.

 

THE CASE OF THE TRAMPLED TEEN

A teenager was found lying by the side of a country road and was later pronounced dead at the scene. The teen was likely a victim of a hit-and-run accident. Suspects include a local man found with drugs in his car, a schoolmate who has confessed to the crime, and a man stopped for driving while intoxicated the evening of the accident.

 

THE CASE OF THE TAMPERED TESTAMENT

A wealthy, elderly woman died at a birthday party in her honor; she may have been poisoned. Later that night a fire broke out in the motel where her relatives slept. The will is being contested by the deceased's personal secretary, and all of the relatives are suspects.

 

THE CASE OF THE OLYMPIC OUTRAGE (coming soon)

The gold medal winning swimmer may have tested positive for a stimulant. Was he doped or was the sample altered? The silver medalist's prize is missing. Was it stolen or lost in a fire? Jealousy, competitiveness, and revenge are the possible motives.

 

THE CASE OF THE PILFERED PAINTING (coming soon)

An expensive painting was stolen from the city museum. A portion of the painting is later recovered from a trash dumpster; apparently the painting was burned. The curator of the museum, a relative of the artist, a museum security guard, and a petty thief are suspects.