As part of National Forensic Science Week 2023 (September 18-22, 2023), the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCOE) is offering a murder mystery event! For this year’s murder mystery, we will be reopening a cold case with information from the original case file and new evidence-based clues from the follow-up investigation released daily. Follow along and test your sleuthing skills!
On Friday, September 22, we will release the final clues and a murder mystery questionnaire for participants to submit their guesses and other feedback on the activity. On Monday, September 25, check back for a case resolution and a summary of the murder mystery questionnaire results to see how you did! This activity is geared towards forensic science students at the undergraduate- or graduate-level and forensic professionals, but all are encouraged to participate.
- The story, names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this activity are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products are intended or should be inferred.
- Additionally, some parts of this activity represent laboratory reports. These reports should not be used as standards or templates for actual standard operating procedures. These reports are only meant to inform the reader of elements associated with this activity.
- The goal of any forensic practitioner is to be an objective, fact-finding party to the criminal justice system. This activity is purely meant to be a game that utilizes forensic science as a conduit of information to assist in solving this fictitious case.
On Wednesday, May 4, 2022, at approximately 1005 hours, Investigator Carrie Fitz responded to a call from homeowners Jeff and Julie Hodges at 620 Mason Street, in the Shady Brush neighborhood. The Hodges moved into their home on Mason Street in August 2021 from out of state, and that morning, they were clearing the heavy vegetation around their property line to plant new bushes. While Mrs. Hodges was digging a hole for the hedge, her shovel hit something hard. Taking a closer look in the hole, she saw a partially uncovered plastic bag. Jeff and Julie started clearing the loose soil around the object and uncovered a box encased in a plastic bag. The Hodges opened the box and found a firearm and several other miscellaneous items inside. The Hodges then called the Bramblewood County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) to report the finding.
The responding officer packaged the found property, took statements from the Hodges, and departed from the scene with the evidence. Upon return to the BCSO on May 4, 2022, the collected items were documented, and inventoried. The responding officer observed a tattered black plastic bag surrounding a black metal box with a latch. Upon opening the latch, within the metal box was a black firearm wrapped in a small white towel presenting reddish-brown stains. A black magazine was found inside the firearm which was observed to have no cartridges loaded. Loose inside the box, the responding officer observed seven stray unfired cartridges and two face masks. The interior of the metal box consisted of insulated material and cardboard. Given the nature of the collective items, Sheriff Leon Crowley advised that the collected items should be prepared for submission to the ABC Forensic Services Laboratory for forensic testing.
Clue 1 - Incident Report
Clue 2 - Firearms Lab Report
Clue 3 - Cold Case Documents
Documents include: Crime Scene Supplemental Report, Crime Scene Sketch, Witness Statements, Evidence List, Autopsy Report, Incident Report, and Laboratory Results
Clue 4 - Investigative Report
Preview of page 2 below!
Clue 5 - Firearms Comparison
Clue 6 - Firearms Serial Number Restoration
Clue 7 - Latent Prints Lab Report
Additional clues will be released daily!
Can you figure out what happened? Can you figure out who was involved? Check back on Friday, September 22nd to submit your guesses before the case resolution is revealed on Monday, September 25th!
Check out last year's events!
Funding for this Forensic Technology Center of Excellence event has been provided by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.
The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this event are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Justice.