Dr. Beth Wiersma
associate professor of criminal justice, 308.865.8775

For the first time, students in the Criminal Justice Club at the University of Nebraska at Kearney participated in an investigation of what appeared to be a suicide in a mock crime scene staged by the Kearney Police Department.

“The students separated into teams that each handled a part of the investigation,” said Dr. Beth Wiersma, UNK assistant professor of criminal justice. “Each team worked with an officer collecting evidence, and they measured, sketched and photographed the crime scene.”

According to Dr. Wiersma, students used several methods of fingerprinting, created molds of footprints and examined the gun powder residue. After an intensive four-hour investigation, students concluded that what appeared to be a suicide was actually a homicide.

“The students who participated were able to see the technology that is used in investigations,” Dr. Wiersma said. “Most students didn’t realize the means and methods of investigation that are available to law enforcement.

“The mock crime scene gave the students hands-on experience and showed them that investigations are more involved than what they see on the television show CSI,” she said. “Most investigations aren’t solved in an hour.

“This was the first time that we have worked with the Kearney Police Department doing a mock crime scene investigation, and we would like to do it again the future,” Dr. Wiersma said.
The students who participated in the mock investigation are listed below.

Ainsworth – Brindi Utemark
Alliance – Tyson Razo
Aurora – Shauna Carlson
Axtell – Jesse Koch
Bradshaw – Heather Tracy
Gibbon – Brooke Jurgens
Giltner – Josh Hunnicutt
Grand Island – Adam Clemans
Henderson – Becca Brunssen, Liesal VandenBerg
Kearney – Kevin Klippert, Boyd Weller, Heather McNew
Spencer – Blair Hofeldt
Springfield – Reid Richter

Colorado Springs – Danielle Temple