Few bodies at meeting on forensic lab plan

An open house intended to answer questions about Mesa State College’s forensic anthropology research center drew just a handful of people Wednesday evening, a likely indication the public has few or no qualms about the facility.

More college administrators, faculty and students than residents attended the low-key, two-hour open house at Mesa County Animal Services.

The research center, also known as a body farm, will occupy roughly one acre of the 35-acre parcel that the college’s Real Estate Foundation will close on next month. The parcel is near the Mesa County Landfill between U.S. Highway 50 and Coffman Road.

The body farm will allow criminal justice professionals and students to study how human corpses decompose. Mesa State is attempting to become the fifth college in the U.S. to operate such a facility and the first in a semi-arid, higher-altitude climate.

Carley Lindquist, who graduated from Mesa State in May with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, said the body farm will give Mesa State students practical training and skills in investigating deaths not available to students at other colleges and universities.

“This center will bring research out that no one has had before,” said Lindquist, who will enroll in the Peace Officer Standards and Training Academy next month and hopes to volunteer at the body farm.

Josh Campbell, who will be a senior at Mesa State this fall, said the college hopes to build an amphitheater at the body farm to hold classes and camps.

Lindquist and Campbell said law-enforcement officers from countries including Chile, England and Sweden have expressed interest in Mesa State’s facility.

Keith Fowler lives roughly a mile away from the body farm site in Elk Run Estates. He doesn’t believe there will be any issues with odor or disease.

“I don’t see a problem,” he said. “I don’t see anything other than it being a nice addition to the Whitewater area.”

Mesa State President Tim Foster said the low turnout of people who inquired about the facility’s size and precise location signaled to him that it’s in good standing with the community.

“That’s what you always hope for, people who haven’t jumped to conclusions but who ask good questions and are open-minded,” he said.


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