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NOTE: While generally similar in process to the Unsolved Crimes cases, the Dealing with Murder cases have one significant difference. Rather than being given all of the case information at once, the information in the Dealing with Murder cases is provided in four sections in an effort to be more realistic and better represent the process of an actual investigation.
The Dealing with Murder cases merge science and literacy as students are required to be critical and active readers as they conduct their investigation. Beginning with an evaluation of the case file,participants will analyze lab reports, phone messages, and interviews to extract key information using the methods of highlighting, tagging with post-it notes and/or note taking. As students (working in small groups of 3-4) extract key information they will formulate their initial hypothesis (being alert to red herrings) as they work to identify the murderer.
Once students feel they have completed their initial analysis they will share their preliminary hypothesis with the teacher. If and when the teacher feels that they have in fact done a complete job the teacher will provide them with Day 2/Part 2 information. Gathering additional sets of information (there are 4 days/parts) requires the group to re-evaluate their preliminary hypothesis as they take into consideration the new information. Once they have received all of the information they will arrive at a final conclusion and determine which of the suspects is responsible for the death. Eventually students should be able to recreate the night in question and determine which suspect(s) should be charged with murder!
Each group’s final write-up would consist of a chart (explained on the CD) that considers the means, motive and opportunity for each of the suspects. In addition to the chart, each group will submit their final analysis of the case including a thorough evaluation of the evidence, a chronological recreation of the case, in addition to identifying the person(s) they believe is responsible.
Each case includes a jpeg image that can be printed and displayed as a poster for the students to examine as an additional (optional) source information of information.
Dealing with Murder: Fatal Error
Richard Webster and his crack staff of software developers have locked themselves in a think tank until their ground breaking computer program “Rosebud” is complete. When the doors finally open Webster’s dead body is discovered, apparently strangled by a mouse cord, his prized program erased! A real “Fatal Error.”
Dead and Breakfast
The scene is an estate auction at the Dearbought Inn, where guests have assembled to bid on newly acquired antiques. To the dismay of no one, Dutsy Mantel dies at the breakfast table the morning after the auction where he managed to rub everyone the wrong way. Is it foul play, or just bad luck??
These cases can be effectively used as an exam or culminating activity in that it requires students to use many of the skills and content areas covered during a forensic science course. An additional aspect of the activity is the group work because not all students will “see” the same clues and the resulting discussions can be very educational. This type of activity has also been used effectively as a reading comprehension or critical reading activity in non-science classes.