June 15th /A grizzly crime was committed in the Loreto Drama Workshop last week. It’s not the first time a hideous act has taken place there, but this was something else entirely! Caitlin Andrew (10J) explains all in this report …
On Wednesday the 10th of June, all Y10 students were off timetable for the day to take part in a Forensics day in the science department.
There had been a murder in the Drama Workshop the afternoon before, and we were tasked with solving the mystery of who the culprit was via the forensic clues left behind. The day was structured around gathering evidence from the scene of the crime, using various forensic techniques, and conducting interviews to collect clues and information.
The year group was split into 5 different ‘incident rooms’. Within each room there were four separate sub-groups. In order to develop team skills, we were placed with people we hadn’t worked with in our previous classes. Our goal was to work together throughout the day to interpret the evidence and come to a valid conclusion. Each individual group spent the day going through evidence, trying out techniques, interviewing possible suspects, and visiting both the crime scene and the forensics laboratory.
In the forensics laboratory, we spent the time analysing blood and its splatter patterns. First, we had to find out if the substance we found at the crime scene was, in fact, blood. To do so, we used a chemical called phenolphthalein, which reacts with the iron atom in haemoglobin (blood) and changes to a pink colour to indicate that blood is present. After that, we double-checked this test by checking the chemical in some distilled water to ensure that this did not also produce a pink colour. Once we had established that the substance was indeed blood, we analysed the blood splatter patterns on the floor (passive), compared to the splatter patterns on the wall (active) that were on display. We studied how to tell the height the blood had fallen from, based on the diameter of the circle droplets, and to work out the direction from which the attack had taken place, based on the blood splatter patterns themselves.
Throughout the day, we were given various amounts of evidence to look at. We had fingerprints which we could test by dusting and lifting from a beaker, and comparing with sets given to us; we used chromatography to figure out which pen had written the note that had been left behind at the scene of the crime, as well as different handwriting samples that were given to us to match up to the note; There was a strand of hair which we examined under a microscope to see if it was dyed, human, and whether or not it had fallen out, or was forcefully removed. Another piece of evidence was the shoe imprint, which we created a plaster cast of. For this, we had a footprint in a box of sand left by the murderer, which we covered in a mixture of plaster of Paris. After leaving it to dry for about 20-30 minutes, we were left with a plaster-cast that had a clear footprint imprinted onto it. From that we could then identify the culprit’s shoe size, type, and gender.
Our groups also got the chance to visit the crime scene itself after visiting the forensics lab which held other pieces of evidence. Here, we used all of our knowledge from the day- in particular the bloodstain analysis- to construct a picture of how the crime was carried out.
After putting all of our evidence together and coming to a conclusion as to who the murderer was, we gave a presentation to the other students in our incident rooms. The following day, back in the workshop, we finally discovered who had actually committed the crime in the “big reveal”, which was theatrically presented to us by the science staff.
Overall, the day was a huge success, as all the year found it very enjoyable and informative. It also gave us all an insight into what it would be like to have a career in the field of scientific study.