Archeological field methods and physical anthropology studies have assisted scientists at the Nebraska State Patrol Criminalistics Lab. Efforts have primarily involved potential homicide cases.
Society archeologists are frequently asked to examine bones turned into the crime lab from law enforcement agencies. Many times, these have proven to be remains from an animal that died naturally. In other cases, the bones are those of a homicide victim. Archeologists make preliminary assessments regarding age and sex of the individual as well as observations on skeletal traces that might provide investigators with a cause of death.
The State Patrol frequently asks Society archeologists to accompany them on field investigations of possible crime scenes. By employing meticulous field recovery techniques and detailed mapping, the joint NSHS-NSP teams have gathered evidence leading to convictions.
The staff of the crime lab has assisted Society researchers in a variety of important ways. Microscopic examination of hair and fiber has helped us identify the source of materials in historic objects and textiles. Crime lab ballistics experts examine historic firearms and bullets in conjunction with restoration and archeological investigations. As genetic DNA research advances in both anthropology and forensics, the two offices will likely be working even more closely.