Principles of Death Investigation is an introductory course designed to discuss the fundamentals of death investigation. The course is written using the NIJ guidelines, 'Death Investigation: A Guide for the Scene Investigator'. In addition, information has been included from death investigation texts, handbooks, and other resources. The content primarily focuses on scene procedures, collection of information, and the various causes, mechanisms, and manners of death. The course is especially written for medicolegal death investigators, crime scene investigators, and law enforcement personnel.
Cost: $0-225. This course takes 20 hours to complete, on average.
Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:
This is a non-credit course offering 3.26 ILUs. (What is ILU?) Average completion time for the course is 20 hours. The course cost is $225 per registration (with the exception of public lab employees, law enforcement, public attorneys, and federal employees – please see "Registration Information" below). A certificate of completion will be issued to students successfully meeting course requirements.
Table of Contents
Unit 1: Death Investigation: An Introduction
Unit 2: Arrival at the Scene
Unit 3: Entering the Death Scene
Unit 4: Obtaining a Profile of the Decedent
Unit 5: Body Evaluation and Examination
Unit 6: Classification and Time of Death
Unit 7: Natural Disease and Death
Unit 8: Trauma: I
Unit 9: Trauma: II
Unit 10: Pediatric and Child Death
Unit 11: Alcohol and Drug Related Deaths
Unit 12: Completing the Scene Investigation
Unit 13: Autopsy – The Role of the DI
Registration for the General Public option must be approved by the instructor. Please fill out and submit the Instructor Approval Form, you will be notified when you are approved for registration. General Public registration without pre-approval may not be accepted. Forensic professionals may be required to provide a brief justification of how the course relates to their daily work.
A printable version of the course content is available in PDF format in the course library for future reference. Course readings are also available in PDF format.
I had 7 points awarded on an 8 question quiz. Did I pass?
Answer: All quizzes in this course have a total ten point value. If there are 8 questions, it simply means there are questions with a value higher than one point. Seven points out of eight questions would equate to 7 out of 10 points. This does not meet the 80% minimum.
I am a law enforcement/forensic professional but do not fall under the requirements for grant funding. Can I still register for this course?
Answer: Yes. If you are, for example, an international practitioner, you will register using the "General Public" registration option and pay the course fee of $225. Some courses, such as this one, do not permit the general public to take the course without prior approval, so any registrations in this category will be screened for approval.
(Free software plug-ins are available in the Getting Started area of the course.)
Basic computer skills required (i.e. turning on your computer, navigating to websites, etc.). The course is user-friendly but support is available if needed.
Kelly Ayers is a curriculum developer with the Forensic Science Initiative. Prior to joining FSI, Kelly was employed as a forensic services technician with the Asheville, NC Police Department. While there, she was qualified as an expert in forensic identification in North Carolina Superior Court and was published in the Journal of Forensic Identification. She has an undergraduate degree with a double major in Philosophy and Biology from Frostburg (Maryland) State University and was the first graduate of the West Virginia University Forensic Identification Program. Since joining FSI, Kelly has become an IAI Certified Senior Crime Scene Analyst and received her Master of Science in Forensic Science Administration from Oklahoma State University. She is a native of Romney, WV. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org 304-293-0323
Robin Bowen is the Assistant Director for the Forensic Science Initiative, a program that develops scientific resources, outreach opportunities, and professional training for forensic scientists and related professionals. Her primary responsibilities include coordination of continuing education programs, management of grant funded projects, and correspondence of progress to the National Institute of Justice. Bowen is the author of Ethics and the Practice of Forensic Science. She is a former advisory member of the Outreach and Communication Interagency Working Group (IWG) under the National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee (NSTC) on Forensic Science. She is also on the Editorial Advisory Board for the revised edition of Encyclopedia of Forensic Sciences. Bowen is the primary developer of the Forensic Educational Alliance, an initiative to offer a variety of forensic science continuing education courses online. She has an undergraduate degree in Forensic and Investigative Sciences and a graduate degree in Secondary Science Education. Robin is the online course instructor for Ethics in Forensic Science, Fibers and Textiles for Forensic Science, and Transition to Leadership. Contact: Robin.Bowen@mail.wvu.edu, 304-293-6214
Please read below to determine your eligibility. If you have any eligibility questions please contact Forensic Science Initiative at FSI@mail.wvu.edu BEFORE you register. Registration is accepted year-round for this course.
“By way of introduction, I am Robert Hebert, a 16-year veteran with the Port of Lake Charles (La.) Harbor Police Department; I also served some years as a Navy Master-at-Arms.
It's delightful and encouraging to find WVU Professional Development courses in time when budget restrictions are so tough on departments' training. The courses are simple to follow and accessible at the most convenient times. They are in-depth and focus on the particulars that a lab specialist, crime scene evidence collection specialist, investigator or first response officer need to know.
I've completed Forensic Questioned Documents and Bloodstain Pattern Analysis; I'm currently enrolled in Death Investigation and Shooting reconstruction.
All of these things, a first responder officer needs to know. In a larger department, this information would help the first responder prepare the scene for chief investigators, and make those officers (first responders) more valuable in the event they might be needed to help collect evidence (as would be the case with fragile evidence). In a small department, often the first responder is the chief investigator. So, that in itself says it all: we never know when we might be thrust into a position whereby we must collect the evidence, and all the particular follow-ups.
I'm so appreciative of WVU's contribution to the law enforcement and forensics community. The information is invaluable and most timely. I've encouraged my fellow officers to explore these great courses. Keep up the great work!”
"All the classes that I have enrolled in have been great. The courses have so much information. I am very confident that any situation I come in contact with will aid me.
I want to thank all the teachers and staff of West Virginia University for the service they provide to law enforcment and other public service employees.