Get an Inside Look at Gainesville's C.A. Pound Crime Lab
Published February 1st, 2013
GAINESVILLE - It's a crime lab unlike any other in the nation. Equipped with the latest technology, and some of the top analysts in the country, this lab is not in New York or Washington, D.C., but rather right here in north central Florida.
"A lot of what we do in this laboratory is really tied in with anthropology," said Dr. Michael Warren, the executive director of the C.A. Pound Human Identification Laboratory at UF, which provides forensic anthropology services for medical examiners across the state.
"We deal with tragedy a lot in the laboratory. And a lot of the decedents that end up in our laboratory have been brutally murdered, and there's always a story behind those," said Warren, whose job is to discover those stories using bone fragments and skeletal remains as his only clues.
The lab's roots go back to the 1970s, when it's founder, Dr. William Maples, worked on his first forensic case: the remains of Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro. Tagging along on the trip was a man named Cicero Addison Pound, who later donated the money to start the lab.
Since then, the lab has been called to study remains in many notable cases, including former President Zachary Taylor, who mysteriously died of a stomach bug in 1850. More recently, the lab was used in the Casey Anthony case, and the remains of Christian Aguilar were brought there to be analyzed.
Dr. Warren walked us through the steps he and his team of graduate student analysts follow when analyzing remains. "What we're trying to do is establish what we call the biological profile," he said. "We'll want to tell the medical examiners whether the decedent is a male or a female, about how old they were at the time of their death, what their ancestral group is, which can be translated roughly into race, and about how tall they were."
Warren also showed TV20 some of the tools his team uses when examining skeletal remains, including a laser scanner that produces a high resolution 3D image.
"We don't determine whether someone's been murdered, or whether it was a suicide or an accidental death," said Warren. "We describe the traumatic injury, and provide interpretations of mechanism of injury to the pathologist. Its the pathologist's job to determine whether or not it was a homicide, or a suicide, or a natural death."
Warren and his team of forensic anthropologists are working to provide answers, so families that have lost a loved one can rest a little easier.
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