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Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Jazmine Kunes, a criminal justice major from Ridgway works to solve a crime in the Crime Scene Investigation House this semester at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. Photo by Alex W. Davis


By Alex W. Davis

BRADFORD, Pa. – Jazmine Kunes has become acquainted with death.

From May through July, the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford criminal justice senior interned at the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office in Pittsburgh. That included tasks like pulling prints from corpses and watching autopsies.

“One thing that was shocking to me was the first violent death I had seen,” the 21-year-old Ridgway student said. “A body had come in that was a suicide, and, up until that point, I had never seen a violent death. Until I went to this internship, I had never even seen a dead person.”

Much of the work included spending time in the latent print lab, using a chemical called ninhydrin to pull prints.

Kunes also used automated fingerprint identification systems to try to find a match of an unknown print through state or country databases. She also learned about dusting and lifting prints.

“The scientists showed us some of the weird things they've had to try to develop prints on, such as an entire deck of cards and moldy food,” Kunes said. “Anything and everything that I wanted to know about prints, or lifting prints, I was able to ask them, and they would tell me.”

When it came time to witnessing an autopsy, Kunes had the chance to weigh the organs. She declined.

“On the first autopsy I watched, I was able to participate in writing down the weights of the organs,” she said. “They want you to learn as much as you can so they are willing to show you anything you want to know.”

Doing the internship also helped her understand “just how a chain of custody works.” She spent time in the evidence intake office.

“I also got to see the evidence rooms, such as drug evidence, where controlled substances are stored until a trial comes up or the police from that jurisdiction come to get it,” Kunes said. “I learned how to use a new computer program that most police stations will be using for cases, if they do not do so already.”

She also got the chance to leaf through crime-scene photographs and investigators’ case reports.

“I had the opportunity to work in the ballistics department and learned all about the different firearms and how they are able to trace specific firearms to certain people, as well as determine what type of firearm was used in a crime,” Kunes said. “This facility has a test fire range as well, where they can test fire guns right in their lab.”

She also watched presentations about Pittsburgh gang awareness, gun safety and clandestine grave digging.

Despite dealing with the smell of a corpse, Kunes said the internship forced her to put her personal feelings aside. “It’s about helping other people,” she said. The internship enabled her to help families find closure through body identification.

She said the lab technicians were “more than willing to help” her perform her duties. They also gave her interview advice, and provided themselves as references for Kunes’ resume.

“I never thought in a million years I would” have interned at a medical examiner’s office, Kunes said.

And those three months weren’t easy. She worked and stayed with relatives in Pittsburgh for three days and traveled about 3.5 hours back home in Ridgway to work for four days.

“The Medical Examiner’s Office is a very prestigious place to intern at,” Kunes said. “It is most famously known for Cyril Wecht, a former medical examiner, who worked on famous cases such as the JonBenet Ramsey autopsy.”

The internship prepared her for working in the Crime Scene Investigation House at Pitt-Bradford for the fall semester.

When Kunes graduates from Pitt-Bradford in April, she wants to work in a lab, whether it be in Allegheny County or elsewhere.

“Jazmine’s internship with the Medical Examiner’s Office has provided her with a unique opportunity to work side-by-side with some of the most gifted criminalists in the state, and it shows in the quality of her work at the Crime Scene Investigation House,” said Dr. Tony Gaskew, assistant professor of criminal justice at Pitt-Bradford.

“Her experiential knowledge and understanding of applied criminal forensics, specifically regarding violent crime scenes is outstanding. Jazmine’s internship has provided her with a very solid foundation for a law enforcement career in homicide investigations.”


Anonymous said...

If that picture is real then that is disgusting that you even put it on your blog and disgusting it was taken in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Oh come on now dildine do you think they cut and gash people as part of this training class?

Anonymous said...

wow.. idiot.

Anonymous said...

Reading is also a substantial part of blogs...not just looking at the pretty pictures.

Anonymous said...

Here`s your sign !

Anonymous said...

Hope you don't watch NCIS! That would really gross you out,even though you can tell it's fake, it sure looks almost real.