Students get real life forensics training on 'Pig Body Farm' at Kennesaw State University

A unique, hand- on crime solving college course has some Kennesaw State University students digging up clandestine graves.

"We have several different bones in here that we've uncovered from the grave," said Kayla Hulsey, a KSU student majoring in Criminal Justice, as she showed FOX 5's Denise Dillon a bucket full of bones she and her classmates recently uncovered.

At KSU's Forensic Anthropology Field Lab, future forensic scientists learn how to locate and excavate graves.

"So if there's a murder and someone buries the body, they're teaching us how to identify that and where to look as part of search and recovery efforts," said Darrell Montgomery, a KSU student majoring in Anthropology.

Dozens of wild boars are buried on the property, buried at different times and at various stages of decomposition.

"We use pigs as proxies for human cadavers," said Anthropology Professor Dr. Alice Gooding.

Gooding is also a forensic anthropologist for the state of Georgia, often working out of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation headquarters.

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At KSU's Forensic Anthropology Field Lab, future forensic scientists learn how to locate and excavate graves.

"The students can see pig cadavers that have been placed recently and those that are old, so they can see all the variation there is in figuring out how long someone has been dead, in this case a pig," said Dr. Gooding.

Students first have to locate where one of the cadavers is buried, then begin the slow and delicate process of uncovering it.  They don't want to destroy any evidence in the process.

"We uncovered a mandible which is a jaw with some teeth attached and possibly a rib and a spine," said Hulsey.

The evidence could help determine when and how the victim died.
Just like crime scene investigators do on tv.

"It's very sexy on tv, but when it comes down to doing the work it will seem a little more tedious, more scientific," said Gooding.

Gooding says the students get very realistic training.

"This is a good class for them to feel and "smell" what it's like," said Gooding, as she is surrounded by various groups of students scraping away the dirt of the graves.

Gooding also teaches this type of field learning to law enforcement professionals.