Thu, Jun 08, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Children find real corpse during `crime scene' trip

THE GUARDIAN , WASHINGTON

Schoolchildren hunting for clues at a mock crime scene staged by their teacher on a class outing in Florida stumbled on the last thing they expected to find -- a real corpse.

The body belonged to a homeless man who had died, apparently of natural causes, in a corner of the Fort Lauderdale park the teacher, Sue Messenger, had chosen for the summer school exercise in criminology.

Forensic science has become extremely popular with the success of the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation television show and its many spin-offs. There were 29 pupils from St Thomas Aquinas High School combing through the grass on Monday.

The clues Messenger had scattered around the park included paper skeletons, fake weapons, bullet casings and sunglasses, but her pupils spotted something she had missed -- a human hand clutching at a fence.

"We thought it was Ms Messenger messing around with us," Josh Rozental, 16, who first found the body, told the Miami Herald.

"I thought it was fake," he said. "I just thought it was like a really good wax hand or something. So I got the rest of our group and we got the camera. And my friend Billy Spreitzer came over and he didn't think it was fake, so he touched it and he turned very pale very fast."

They went to fetch Messenger, who realized her pupils were trampling over a likely crime scene.

"When I went over, knowing what I know about rigor mortis and postmortem lividity, it was apparent to me that actually this was a deceased individual," she said. "So the biggest thing is I wanted them to move off ... I knew there was going to be an investigation and I just wanted them to back off and for us to not to disturb anything."

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