Investigators solve 'crime'; results remain secret

Mock  investigators (from left) Hannah Creary (15), of Wellington, Aoife Picken (15), of Dunedin, Anna Cooper (16), of Dunedin, Alicia McKean (14), of Dunedin, and Georgia Ross (14), of Dunedin, at a New Zealand International Science Festival workshop on forensic science in the Lindo Ferguson Building last night. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Mock investigators (from left) Hannah Creary (15), of Wellington, Aoife Picken (15), of Dunedin, Anna Cooper (16), of Dunedin, Alicia McKean (14), of Dunedin, and Georgia Ross (14), of Dunedin, at a New Zealand International Science Festival workshop on forensic science in the Lindo Ferguson Building last night. Photo by Peter McIntosh.

CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, CSI: Dunedin.

The 15 mock forensic investigators, aged between 13 and 17, bagged evidence last night from three crime scenes in the Lindo Ferguson Building to reveal a criminal.

Workshop co-ordinator Dr Angela Clark said the New Zealand International Science Festival workshop, The Anatomy of a Crime Scene, revealed how forensic science helped bring criminals to justice.

Dr Clark said a Campus Watch member heard a crash in the building at 5am yesterday and found a backpack, notebook and computer mouse on a stairwell.

The investigators dusted the mouse for prints, searched the bag for fibres and compared the notebook with handwriting samples given by four suspects - retired lecturer Sally, builder John and students Jack and Louise - ''all people who have a legitimate reason for being here'', Dr Clark said.

The second crime scene, where a laptop was stolen, had blood on broken glass, a fingerprint on a burger wrapper and a footprint in spilt pot plant soil.

Investigator Rachel Irvine (13), of Mosgiel, said the team had massaged plaster of Paris into the shoe-print.

Finally, a laptop and bones found at a beach by a dog-walker were examined.

''They have to identify if they are animal or human bones to see if this is a more sinister crime,'' Dr Clark said.

The suspect's shoes and samples of handwriting, hair and fingerprints were analysed in the lab.

The investigators used glue fumes to reveal a fingerprint on the foil burger wrapper and profiled DNA with the strands of hair.

The forensic workshop would be held again on Friday, so the identity of the criminal could not be published in the ODT today.

Dr Clark, a human remains researcher, said places in the two workshops filled quickly and she hoped to hold more at next year's festival.

shawn.mcavinue@odt.co.nz

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