( Rembrandt: The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp)
The diseased don’t speak but nowadays we can read their bodies just like books.
Criminals were sentenced if they had a weapon, if there was a witness and a statement. Those were the only tools to clarify a case and finding the guilty person.
Forensic science made great strides over the past two hundred years with the implementation of the fingerprints, ballistics and handwriting analysis but this science needed other kind of studies to understand how human deceased bodies reacted after certain situations. To study this, the body farm was created.
The body farm is an open air laboratory where students and experts of the area perform examinations, and most importantly, they observe the decomposition of bodies. The body becomes an ecosystem, so to speak, and studies like these on human bodies helped to determine the different stages of decomposition. This is a job that helps to solve crimes.
" The bodies are allowed to decompose for various amounts of time. Then students practice locating, collecting and removing the remains from the area. The remains are taken to a laboratory and further analyzed. When analysis is finished, the skeleton may be returned to the family of the deceased for burial, if requested. Otherwise, it will likely remain in the department's collection of skeletons. "
The forensic pathologist is the person who will determine the identity of the person, the cause of death and the time but when a person’s remains are in the advanced stages of decomposition, the forensic physical anthropologist participate in the examination.
-Where do they get the bodies?
The bodies are donated, mostly, sometimes the farm use bodies that have not been claimed at the morgue.
The Anthropological Research Facility in Knoxville currently has over 2,000 pre-donors on file who will bestow their corporeal remains to the facility after they die. "We get over 100 donated bodies each year from donations. People donate themselves like they would to a medical school." -Dr. Richard L. Jantz, Professor Emeritus and Director of the Forensic Anthropology Center at the University of Tennessee
-Body Farms in the U.S.A
According to The Atlantic website there are five body farms in the United States. They are located in Tennessee (University of Tennessee at Knoxville), North Carolina (Western Carolina University in Cullowhee), University of Pennsylvania's Institute of Criminological and Forensic Sciences and Texas (Texas State University in San Marcos and Sam Houston State University in Huntsville).
-How the farm works?
The farms are located miles and miles away from cities or towns; on ranches owned by Universities. For example Freeman Ranch, is part of the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State University.
" The bodies are placed in a variety of areas to mimic crime scenes. Some are buried in shallow graves, inside vehicles or even in a noose, and then left to rot while being monitored for decay.
The researchers then let nature takes its course, gathering vital clues from insects, the decaying bones and . The facility, which has been regularly visited by police, prosecutors and since the 1980s, is also used to help identify plane crash victims and those buried in mass war graves."
-The daily mail-
The bodies sometimes are kept inside cages. That way the animals won’t steal them. They are also left out; under the sun or under the trees. So pathologist will record all the body changes during the hours, days, years they’ve been left out on the elements under the rain, a hot day, a cold day, and for example: how long it takes maggots to feed on a body which, it will tell the forensics how long the person have been deceased. How dark the skin turns after 6 months or how longs does it take for the skin to disintegrate. These are all things that a forensic team needs to answer.