FBI showcase process of ‘methodical’ evidence gathering

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KANSAS CITY -- Finding the right evidence at crime scenes often can be the difference between whether a case goes unsolved or a criminal is put behind bars. The FBI Thursday showcased just how detailed evidence gathering has become.

The FBI has three evidence response teams in Kansas City with a total of 30 specialists in evidence gathering. When they arrive at a crime scene, they will take hours, if not days, to make sure that every scrap of information that could explain what happened is collected, recorded and preserved.

The FBI teams take pride in human remains recovery, where victims have been dumped in clandestine graves.

Teams include specialists in advanced photography and forensic anthropology. Their goal is to make a record that shows exactly what was at the crime scene when authorities got there. And if that means removing half an inch of dirt at a time and then taking more photos, that's what they do. They say it's not at all how crime scene investigation is portrayed on television.

"It's a very methodical process," said Lou Ann Stovall, FBI supervisory special agent. "And it takes a long time to process a crime scene. It's not CSI where everything gets done in an hour, and our team actually goes out, collects the evidence, analyses the evidence and then puts the bad guy in jail within an hour, it just doesn't happen that way."

FBI teams often are called in by police and sheriff departments who need a manpower multiplier to help them find evidence that might not otherwise get collected.

In cases involving missing or abducted children 12 years or younger, there's a federal mandate for the FBI to get involved. And with specialists in areas like digital evidence and bloodstain pattern analysis, these teams bring a lot of expertise to an investigation in a hurry.

As criminals and crimes become more sophisticated, law enforcement's counter-effort uses technology and science to ensure justice is served.

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