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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Space identified for ‘cold-body’ forensic site

A new research facility coming to NMU has grabbed the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and scholars from across the world. The location for the outdoor forensic anthropology site has been chosen.

re-deadbodiesmapThe forensic research site will allow students to study the decomposition of bodies in real-time.The future site being brought to NMU will be the first of its kind in a cold climate, whereas other facilities are typically set up in southern states.

Alan McEvoy, department of anthropology and sociology head, said the site they chose is a 2.5-acre piece of land near the prison that belongs to the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC).

“[The MDOC] sees the value of it, the need for it and that it’ll have a lot of benefits, both to the community as well as to science and to solving crimes,” McEvoy said.

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The area that will hold the forensic anthropology site sits in the center between the prison, the Department of Natural Resources and the water treatment plant, just off of U.S. Highway 41. The land will be conveyed over to NMU from the Department of Corrections, but the state legislature will first have to approve the transfer of the deed, McEvoy said. The legislature is currently in a lame duck session and likely won’t take the matter up until after the new representatives begin their terms in January. The cost will likely be $1.

The largest cost on the property will be the fencing. The fence will need security cameras and razor wire. The land will also need a shed to keep equipment.

McEvoy said they are also looking for a place to put the lab needed for preparation. The lab will be at another location, away from the site.

“Once we settle the deal on the lab and the land, then we can go ahead and advertise for the director position. Hopefully that will be in the fall,” McEvoy said.

The director would be in charge of the forensic facility, the lab and would work to establish a body donor program for the site. A forensic anthropology course will be offered through the criminal justice department in the fall and the goal would be to establish an anthropology major with an emphasis on forensics, McEvoy said.

The site will bring grant money and scholars to NMU because of its uniqueness, given it has already peaked the interest of the FBI and other forms of law enforcement, he added.

“It’ll create a program where students have a career track they would not have any place else,” he said.

He doesn’t see a lot of downsides to the site, the biggest concern always seems to be the odor.

“I’ve been to an outdoor facility, and it doesn’t have the odor you think it does,” McEvoy said. “It’s kind of surprising.”

He said during human composition the body will smell during the first week before it becomes mummified.

“I’m totally excited about it,” McEvoy said. “I realize for some people it may seem a bit morbid, but it’s an important thing.”

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