Go behind the yellow tape at Point Park University's crime scene house.
Every piece of evidence, from a shotgun to an eyelash, is marked with a number.
Students and faculty donate various props, like old televisions, to make the place feel more like a home.
At real crime scenes, investigators use dental cement to take castings. Here, gypsum plaster (aka plaster of Paris) is used.
As demonstrated on Showtime’s hit series “Dexter,” string is used to analyze blood spatters. These patterns can show how many times a victim was hit and from which direction.
Despite what we see on “Law and Order,” the final position of a gun rarely says much about how a crime played out.
“We use three kinds of fake blood,” Strimlan explains. “One is cosmetic, another for blood-spatter analysis and the third to practice blood typing.”
Drums filled with local dirt allow students to practice digging up bones to make castings.
Fingerprinting powder sticks to oils left by human skin.
Special vacuums are used to collect hair and fiber evidence from the carpet.
Chemicals like luminol increase the visibility of bloodstains under ultraviolet light.
Students can compare bones they unearth to this anatomically correct skeleton—and no, it isn’t real.
Photos by Renee Rosensteel
Point Park University's crime scene house allows students to practice forensic science on mock-ups of CSI-style mayhem. “We can set up a scene and have them work it or give them a finished report and have them recreate the scene,” says Dr. Ed Strimlan, former chief forensic investigator of Allegheny County, who designed the program. “There aren’t many out there like it.”