Students to recreate 1970s murder scene - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Students to recreate 1970s murder scene

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PLATTEVILLE (WKOW) -- More than 500 people are expected to visit an exhibit detailing a gruesome crime from the 1970s, at the UW Platteville Wednesday.

It's the third installment of "Horrific Crime Scene Revisited," where students recreate a real crime scene inside the "Forensic Investigation Crime Scene House," just five miles from the university's main campus. Details of this year's exhibit are confidential until the house opens, but in previous years scenes have been based on the Jeffrey MacDonald and Amanda Knox cases.  

Organizers do say that they chose a local, low-profile case so visitors do not come in with any preconceptions.

"People all want to know what the case is, but we want people to come in here and not know what's going to happen," UW-Platteville student Danny Wipperfurth said.

Wipperfurth and other students spattered fake blood, set up a dummy victim, and set up the downstairs to look like a 1970s police department.

"This is absolutely one of my favorite parts of the job. I love the research leading up to it. It's very high energy the day of the event. People don't know what to expect, and students are always excited to see what we've done differently from year to year. Will there be a body? Will there be more gore," UW-Platteville lecturer Dana Cecil said. 

Cecil says one the reasons professors created the exhibit is to see whether students can stomach field work should they work in crime scene investigation after they graduate.

"We do try and choose a gory case…so if they went into a case that's particularly brutal or horrific, can they handle it," Cecil said.

Professors say another reason is to dispel the "CSI effect" among the public.

"Anybody who is interested in what a crime scene investigation really is, what it looks like, feels like…it's not the glamour you see on TV," UW-Platteville assistant professor Diana Johnson said, adding that jurors often expect things that may not be in the case.

"Pretty much what you see on TV is as farfetched as it can get. A lot of us criminal justice students watch it and they come back with a fingerprint match in 30 seconds, and that's not how it works," Wipperfurth said.

Despite the advantages of technology, Wipperfurth says he thinks he would have rather been a CSI in the 1970s, when the crime he helped recreate happened.

"Just because there is that clue of who is the most likely to have done it, and actually doing the hard interview and getting the person to confess, versus now when we have evidence that you did it," Wipperfurth said.

Students say that evidence collection has changed drastically in the past 40 years, when CSIs did not wear plastic gloves and could have left their own fingerprints on crime scene items.

UW-Platteville's "Horrific Crime Scene Revisited" is on Wednesday, October 30 only from noon to 8:00 p.m. at the Forensic House, located at 29065 College Farm Road in Platteville. Organizers say the exhibit is not intended for young children. For more information, visit the UW-Platteville criminal justice department's website.

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