Central Campus Students Working to Solve ‘Murder Under the Bridge’

DES MOINES, Iowa -- If you drive in downtown Des Moines Thursday you’ll see a little more police tape than normal, but don’t be alarmed. Students from Central Campus are just working to solve a mock murder.

”You know, investigating dead bodies. Never assuming anything. Never assume it was a suicide, never assume it’s a homicide,” said Steven Huynh, North High Student. “You have to find all the evidence first before you assume something.”

“Murder Under the Bridge” begins at 8:00 a.m. Thursday. Students in the class are earning college credits in both criminal justice and forensic sciences on the project. On Thursday, they’ll process a mock crime scene and analyze the evidence, learning how to examine fingerprint data, fiber identification, blood analysis, ballistics, and shoe impression evidence.

The students will be assisted by personnel from the Des Moines Police Department and a variety of other law enforcement agencies.

The mock crime scene involves a mannequin but otherwise it’s a very realistic scenario.

”Pretty real, since we are going to be investigating under a bridge. So, all that dirty stuff down there. It’s going to make the environment more real,” said Steven Huynh.

This is only the second year of the program. The class is taught by a former Des Moines Police Department Captain, Kelly Willis.

Administrators with Central Campus say this class offers the students a chance to learn outside of a traditional setting and for many of these students it’s making them better citizens.

“I think it also give them a safe forum to discuss the things that are going on in our society and within our criminal justice system,” said Gretchen Watznauer, Central Campus. “Also, they get to see how those two systems are meshing together and sometime having problems getting along.”

This course at Central Campus started with just sixteen students, and has now grown to forty, with a waiting list of more than 100 students.