Deathboat Case Overview: When multimillion dollar lottery winner, Waverly Berg is pulled from the ocean the question is, “How did she die?” Was it an unfortunate accident caused by seasickness or could it be that someone on board the luxury ship wanted her to take her last swim?
All of the cases in the Unsolved Crimes Series merge science and literacy as students are required to become critical and active readers as they conduct their investigation. Beginning with an evaluation of the crime scene photos, 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. Students (working in small groups of 3-4) will extract key information as they formulate their initial hypothesis (being alert to red herrings) in their effort to identify the person or persons responsible for the murder. Gathering additional information, groups will need to re-evaluate their initial hypothesis to see whether it can still be supported by evidence. Eventually students are able to recreate the night in question and determine which suspect(s) should be charged with murder.
Each group’s final write-up will consist of a suspect chart (explained in the teacher’s information folder) that describes the means, motive and opportunity for each of the suspect. In addition to the chart each group will submit their final analysis of the case including a thorough analysis of the evidence as well as chronological recreation of the case. Optional final products and grading rubrics are also proposed.
This activity 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.