Madeline Lee solved her first murder before she could even drive a car.
The 10-year-old and her classmates worked closely with the Central Michigan University Police Department and its forensics unit at the Crime Scene at the Museum mock investigation in Rowe Hall.
“Looking at the bones outside and picking them up was so much fun,” Lee said. “We solved that murder and I even got my fingerprints taken by cops.”
The crime scene program had children solve a phony murder using forensics Wednesday at the Museum of Cultural and Natural History in Rowe Hall.
Tammy Draves, a teacher at Mount Pleasant Seventh-Day Adventist Elementary School, brought eight of her students to participate in the crime scene scenario.
“I like the idea of my students learning how police do their jobs and having them realize that the police are here to help, not to be afraid of,” Draves said. “All kids love a mystery, and my students are having a blast.”
Participants worked outside at the fake crime scene that contained the remains of a skeleton. Other pieces of evidence included a Styrofoam cup, a Pop Tart wrapper and CDs. The children recorded the information in their investigation logs, and strapped on gloves to collect the remains and gather evidence to bring to the classroom lab to analyze.
Dearborn Heights senior Kaitltyn Schroeder developed the crime scene program last year, and offered an improved version Saturday.
“I got the idea for the crime scene program from a disease class I took at CMU, and I used other, different ideas from an osteology and forensics class, too,” Schroeder said. “Seeing how much fun these kids have with it feels amazing.”
The children were separated into three groups to work on the different forensic stations in a classroom lab to find out which of the provided suspects was the murderer.
One of the groups analyzed the fingerprints they found on the CDs and the Pop Tart wrapper to match them to a suspect. They also had their own fingerprints taken with assistance from CMUPD Sgt. Mike Morrow and Officer Tim Prout.
The second group worked on the skeleton analysis, organizing the bones to form a complete skeleton, and comparing the bones to see what damage was dealt to the victim.
The third group worked in the dentition area, where they analyzed the bite marks found on the Styrofoam cup and compared the bite marks with molds of the suspects’ teeth.
Together, the children compared the evidence they found and worked cooperatively to solve the murder and pinpoint the victim through the use and analysis of forensic evidence.
“It’s great to work with the kids to show them what we do,” Morrow said. “This is the fun part of the job.”