Freshman Scholars Program 2014

Surface Skeletal and Buried Body Remains Recovery

Instructor:  David Nicholson, Ph.D.


Project Description:

Students interested in criminal justice and forensic science.

Oftentimes, a suspect will partially or fully bury a murder victim to hide the evidence of their crime.  It is the roll of the Forensic Investigator to properly and meticulously exhume the body without destroying or damaging potential evidence.  In this class, we will learn the techniques used in the field today, as well as put the techniques into practice by exhuming both a partially buried and fully buried skeleton.

Buried Skeletons will be placed in the ground two to three months prior to the course so that the ground can have a chance to settle and the vegetation will regrow.  This is a similar process that can take place when a body is not discovered for months after the death.  Searching to find the body is the first step in the recovery process.


David Nicholson, Ph.D.

Dr. Nicholson had a fifteen-year career in law enforcement. He spent time as a Police Officer with both the Duke University Public Safety Department and Durham County Sheriff's Office. Since 1996, he has taught in the field of Forensic Investigation throughout the east coast and mid-western states. From 1998-2003, Dr. Nicholson worked closely with the Naval Criminal Intelligence Services in instructing new investigators in the area of surface skeletal and buried body remains recovery. He has taught several week-long intensive workshops on Forensic Investigation throughout North Carolina and South Carolina.

If you have specific questions about this project, please contact Dr. Nicholson directly at DNicholson@ferrum.edu.

Click here to return to the Freshman Scholars Program Overview page.