Welcome to Crime Scene House: Chilling Home Helps Teach Future Crime Solvers - NBC4 Washington

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Welcome to Crime Scene House: Chilling Home Helps Teach Future Crime Solvers

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    NEWSLETTERS

    House Prepares Students for Career in Forensic Science

    A house in Fairfax, Virginia, looks pretty average on the outside, but inside it's filled with mannequins and fake blood. The purpose of the house is to teach students studying forensic science. David Culver reports. (Published Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018)

    It looks like any other family home. 

    But once you step inside, you'll find just about every room inside the quiet Fairfax home covered in crime scene tape.

    Welcome to the Crime Scene House.

    The home is the latest project of the George Mason University’s forensic science program, and it's all about learning. 

    Everywhere you turn in the home, you'll come across a horrific crime. Fortunately, there are no real victims here, only mannequins. But each scene is used to convey an important lesson. 

    "To give them the...experience of actually coming into a home and processing it as though they were at a real crime scene," said Dr. Mary Ellen O'Toole, the director of the forensic science program. 

    With nearly 30 years in the FBI, O’Toole became a renowned profiler, helping solve infamous cases like the Green River killer and the Unabomber.

    Her interest in crime started early. 

    "I’m sure at age 6 that I scared the heck out of my mom, and she was probably thinking, 'Oh, where’s the closest military school I can send her too.' But I’ve always had that interest in criminal behavior and the criminal mind," O'Toole said. 

    She's now channeling her curiosity and experience into helping educate the next generation of crime solvers.

    "They’ll learn about blood spatter, they’ll learn about finger prints, they’ll learn about hairs and fibers in a home that’s setup to look like a crime occurred," O'Toole explained. 

    O'Toole compiled a top-notch team to help her. The house is also equipped with surveillance cameras, making this chilling home the perfect classroom for students.

    "The instructors can sit at this console and they can watch the students processing each room within the crime scene house itself," O'Toole said.

    Christopher Durac, the program's project manager, said he wishes he had a house like this when he was a student.

    "I think it is just the coolest thing," Durac said. 

    Unlike prime-time crime dramas, which helps recruit some students initially, O'Toole hopes the space will give them a feel for what it really takes to solve a crime. 

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