The Body Farm
The Body Farm as it is called is quite morbid to some, but it does serve a purpose to those that study anthropology and forensics science.
Bodies are planted on the farm and when dug up, a study is done of the different stages of decomposition in different environments. Located in Knoxville, Tennessee, the farm helps scientist determine causes of death by examining the different stages of decomposition in relation to the environment and bug life.
Without a place of this type or without donation of bodies after death, scientist would not be able to study the body after death. This would stop forensics science in helping solve crimes. The farm is a vital part of criminal investigation because it documents the different stages of death and uses the study of bugs on the body to help pinpoint a time of death.
The Body Farm started over 29 years ago when Dr. William Bass needed some way to study bodies after death. He asked the dean of the college if he could use a small area to place bodies on and that was the beginning of the Body Farm, which is technically called the Anthropology Research Facility.
Today, the Body Farm has helped develop how forensic is defined when a body is found. Because of the work done, decomposed bodies can still tell a story just as a newly dead body. It does take more time, but both cases can be solved because of the knowledge gained from the farm.
At one given time, there can be numerous bodies buried on the 2.5 acres of land behind the university that are being studied at various stages of decomposition. Some are left in the open, some are submerged in water, some are left in car trunks and some are buried in shallow graves.
Over 300 people have donated their bodies to the Body Farm and other bodies come from the coroner's office if the body is a Jane or John Doe. It is said that over 120 bodies are donated to the farm every year. Grover Krantz is the most notable person to donate his body for at the farm.
Scene of crime and different techniques in forensic science are also taught to law enforcement officers at the Body Farm. Two more Body Farms are found in North Carolina and Texas. North Carolina is used to study decomposition in that climate and to train cadaver dogs. A former student of Dr. Bass', Dr. Michelle Hamilton, runs the Texas farm.
Body Farms in other areas are expected, but funding is not easy to get and finding a suitable location that doesn't offend the community is hard. People just don't want Body Farms close by where they live. Although there is no health risk, it is a morbid feeling knowing what is going on next door.