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Special Report: Inside the Wausau State Crime Lab

By: John DesRivieres Email
By: John DesRivieres Email

With the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, C.S.I. makes crime scene investigating look fun and easy, but that's usually not the case.

The staff at the State Crime Lab in Wausau gives no illusions as to how it really is.

"The public expects every crime scene you're gonna find fingerprints or you're gonna find D.N.A. Sometimes there are no fingerprints, sometimes there is no D.N.A.," said Bob Sanders of the crime lab's Forensic Imaging Unit.

Sanders has been photographing crime scenes for 30 years, in his world, evidence rarely comes easy. That goes the same for latent print expert, Eric Soderlund.

"Many times it's not like C.S.I, where individuals routinely develop beautiful prints that are easy to compare. Many times we don't have the quality and sometimes we don't identify suspects, that happens quite often," said Soderlund.

That's what you don't see on C.S.I., the cases where the suspects aren't caught.

In real life, that evidence gets stored in a database, and if that suspect gets arrested in the future, they can also be charged with the previous crime.

If CSI and similar shows have done one thing for the forensic field, it's increased it's popularity. More and more students are studying to become scientists.

"It's increased awareness of our profession and also it's sparked an increase in college level training for forensic scientists," said Sanders.

"We're even having high schools that are offering courses in forensic science, so it's become very popular," said Kim Vonnahme, Crime Lab Supervisor.

With juicy plot lines and slick talking detectives, it's not hard to see why CSI is so popular...even if in real life, the evidence often is.


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