St. Catherine’s School students solve mock crime scene mystery

By Alexa Nash

A high school class of sophomores and juniors at St. Catherine’s School, an age 3 through 12th grade all-girls school in Richmond, Va., took part in a mock crime scene as a part of a week-long program called X-Term: an experiential learning program in coordination with St. Christopher’s School to enhance understanding of new material. They had to solve a “murder” by using evidence they collected at the crime scene as well as “suspect” interviews.

This term’s theme was forensics, and the students learned how to process a crime scene which includes identifying the parts of the skeleton, dusting for fingerprints, testing dirt samples, analyzing blood spatter and testing for poison. The students, broken up into two groups, went through the entire forensic process for the mock crime scene, and each member of the group had a specific job that mimics a real crime scene.

Their teachers, Jennifer Harper and Jeanette Adkins, gave the students a list of suspects and their fingerprints. The group members interviewed the suspects based on evidence collected. While neither group identified the correct “perpetrator,” their processed evidence and interviews pointed to two different suspects with two different motives: The need for money for a trip to London and having the same hair color which was found on the crime scene. The “murderer” was later identified as Dr. Ryan Warren, based on fingerprints and his shoe print.

The first group enters the mock crime scene and immediately begins to document evidence. Photo by Alexa Nash.
Evidence from the “murder” included a muddy shoe print, blood spatter, chalk outline of the body, cold medicine, a bloody hammer, a glass bottle and hair. Photo by Alexa Nash.
A student dusts a cup filled with what was believed to be cold medicine for fingerprints. Photo by Alexa Nash.
Students dust the glass drink bottle for fingerprints. Photo by Alexa Nash.
The second group of students wait to enter the taped-off crime scene. They have to be checked in by the scribe in order to enter. Photo by Alexa Nash.
A student takes a closer look at evidence through a microscope. Photo by Alexa Nash.
Students recreate what they think happened when the mock crime took place, with one acting as the victim and another acting as the murderer. Photo by Alexa Nash.
A student from group two dusts the glass bottle for fingerprints. Photo by Alexa Nash.
A student interviews one of her teachers, Jeanette Adkins, to learn of her involvement with the “murder.” Adkins, as well as the other “suspects,” had written scripts to follow when being questioned. Photo by Alexa Nash.
A student measures the shoe her teacher, Jennifer Harper, is wearing to see if it matches the footprint found at the mock crime scene. Photo by Alexa Nash.
Students interview Dr. Lara Wulff, one of the “suspects,” and inquire about her shoe size. Photo by Alexa Nash.