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Western Colorado's Selective University

Human Remains Recovery

When: TBA (Summer 2016)
Where: Forensic Investigation Research Station, Colorado Mesa University, 950 Coffman Road, Whitewater, CO
Who: Law enforcement, coroners, coroner's deputies
Cost: TBA

This course introduces the participant to the methods and techniques of archeology relevant to forensic investigation. The course will include topics on forensic anthropology and archeology, and information needed to identify human skeletal remains. This 32-hour course of instruction is designed to provide a participant the training and proper tools necessary to identify, locate and excavate clandestine and surface sites. Our hands-on course puts the participant in the field, exposing them to various real-life scenarios. In this course, the student will learn how evidence from clandestine graves sites should be recovered, and when a professional archaeologist or anthropologist is useful or necessary. This will include the recovery and collection of evidence located within these sites, and how to document it in regard to notes, photography, sketches, and mapping.
Students will be provided classroom instruction from knowledgeable instructors followed with hands-on exercises to practice the learned tools and techniques. The participant will be given contacts that can be used for future reference. Topics Include: location of surface remains, location of buried remains, excavation techniques, site documentation, evidence collection, mapping techniques, human and non-human bone identification, and the collection of entomological specimens for analysis for the post-mortem interval

Following completion of this course, the participant will be able to understand archaeological techniques for location and excavation of buried materials. They should have an understanding of burial processes and how they affect crime scenes. They should also know the limits of their knowledge, when to call a specialist, and what to expect of one.

For registration information please contact Melissa Connor, Director of the Forensic Investigation Research Station, at 970.248.1219 or


Monday (start at 1pm):

  • Introductions and Administration
  • Scattered surface remains as an outdoor crime scene


  • Field Exercise - Surface remains
  • Location techniques for buried remains
  • Recovery techniques for buried remains
  • Differentiating human and non-human remains


  • Field Exercise - Buried Remains


  • Information to help determine the post-mortem interval:
    • Forensic entomology
    • Taphonomy
    • A Case Study: The Katyn Forest Massacre
  • Identification of decomposed and skeletal remains:
    • Presumptive
      • Anthropological analysis
    • Confirmative
      • DNA/ Dental/ Fingerprints - methods for removing from remains


  • More complicated scenes: fire, landfills, wells
  • Pass out certificates