CSI comes to William Woods University

First there was CSI:
Crime Scene Investigation, then CSI: Miami and CSI: New York. Now there is CSI:
William Woods University.

A judge and bailiff
were “murdered” last week in WWU’s Weitzman Model Courtroom. While most WWU students were taking
written final exams, the students of the crime scene investigation class pulled
out their notepads and cameras and searched for clues to solve the murders.
That, along with a
written paper detailing their findings, was their final exam.
“For their exam, I
asked my students to enter into a crime scene and document the evidence they
might find,” said Bob Ahsens, WWU assistant professor of legal studies.
“With the evidence
found, they were asked to create of photo log and use the evidence collected
for the complete crime scene report,” said Ahsens, a retired Missouri assistant
attorney general with 30 years of experience as a criminal trial prosecutor.
The two victims,
William Wallace, the judge, and Seth Thompson, the bailiff, are members of
another one of Ahsens’ classes and volunteered to help. Other volunteers
included Allie Malone and Ashley Dameron, who took turns acting as the murderer
trying to escape.
The CSI class divided
into groups of two or three and signed up for a one-hour session during which
they would investigate the crime scene. They were tasked with finding
fingerprints, locating the weapons used in the murder and documenting blood
splatters on the victims and around the room.
Anything else
suspicious, such as the cell phone found in the bushes outside the court room,
was “bagged and tagged” as well.
Students used real
crime scene investigation kits, which were funded through a Creative
Development Grant applied for by Peggy Nickerson, assistant professor of paralegal
studies. The grants are made available from a special fund sponsored by the
academic dean to cover
creative projects that directly impact student learning in the classroom. 
“We’re planning to
utilize these kits as much as possible to prepare our students for the American
Criminal Justice Association conference April 21-26 in Valley Forge, Pa. They
actually have a crime scene investigation setup at the conference in which
students compete,” Ahsens said.
“Most of our students
who take this class are criminal justice and pre-law students. The interest in
criminal law has started growing; therefore, I believe it is vital that we
continue to offer our students real-life scenarios so that they have the
necessary skills when they leave the classroom and venture out into their
In the spring semester,
Ahsens will offer the course, criminal investigations,
which will concentrate on several skills including interrogation
methods, surveillance, report writing and testifying in court. 
Caroline Boulanger photographs a “bloody” handprint, while
Ashley Dameron holds up the evidence marker and Shannon Garcia takes notes.
Shannon Garcia searches the crime scene investigation kit for
what she needs to document the evidence.