Project Description

A series of tragedies has occurred in the small town of Highland Park.  First, a woman and two children were killed when their car went over the side of Backbone Mountain and burst into flames.  Although the victims were burned beyond recognition, initial identifications were made:  Louise Mondelo and her children, Jan and Wally.  A while later, the decomposing corpses of a male and a female identified as Lyle and Louise Mondelo were found murdered in a cabin.  This raises some questions:  Which victim, if either, is really Louise Mondelo?  Were the children in the car Jan and Wally Mondelo?  We will use DNA analysis to determine the correct identities of the victims.  The next obvious questions are when did the murders occur and who committed the murders?  We will use various forensic science techniques such as analyses of blood spatter patterns, questioned documents, fingerprints, and foot prints to answer these questions.

Project Nature

The topic itself is a non-traditional undergraduate topic for a liberal arts institution.  This project will give the instructors and students an opportunity to study in a more in depth manner topics that can only be skimmed across in our regular semester courses.  Traditional lecture style teaching will be minimal.  Case studies, hands-on activities, guest speakers, and field trips will be the main pedagogical techniques employed.

Course Information

Maximum Expense:  $75 to cover lab supplies

Reading Material:   Journal articles and lab handouts will posted to Moodle or distributed in class.

Off Campus Components:  Field trips to forensics laboratories in Spartanburg and/or Greenville and/or Anderson Counties.


The Mystery of Lyle and Louise:  An Introduction to Forensic Science

Dr. Stefanie Baker (Biology) and Dr. Jameica Hill (Chemistry)