Prior to the start of the fall semester, 23 students enrolled in the inaugural year of the Northwest Kansas Technical College’s newest program: Crime Scene investigation Technology.
Today, professor Jennifer Coronado-Gonzalez took some Maverick students to the famous Kidder Massacre site northeast of Goodland. Even though it is a crime scene that is nearly 150 years old, she hopes that the students treated this trip as if they were in the field.
“Over 147 years ago, we had an actual battle just outside of town and the artifacts that were located were actually considered evidence,” Coronado-Gonzalez said. “Not a lot of people can say they were investigating an actual battle ground let alone where General (George) Custer was involved.”
Northwest Tech’s program provides students with a chance to learn about locating, preserving, collecting, analyzing, and presenting physical evidence. Coronado-Gonzalez, who served as a police advocate in her home state of California, believes that being the only CSI program in the state besides Wichita State University can jump start their criminal investigating career.
“They can take this to the academy and when they are working on an actual crime scene,” she said. “What were the 300 indians and the soldiers thinking? What was going on at the time? You can’t rule anything out and have to investigate with an open mind.”
Doug Whitson, who currently serves as a Sherman County part-time deputy with decades of CSI experience, said that the age of a crime scene is irrelevant because there is always forensics evidence left.
“You don’t want to think in two dimensions in law enforcement,” Whitson said. “You have to be able to think from all angles.”
Whitson lead the party across the rugged terrain of the Kidder Massacre site, stopping at locations where he has recovered numerous artifacts. He also shared his thoughts on the layout of the battle ground, where gun shells were found, and a hypothesized grave site at the grounds.
“They are only limited by their own imagination,” Whitson said.
“It’s history and it’s local,” Coronado-Gonzalez said. “I hope they learned a lot form this experience.”
–This story and photos were written and compiled by Beau Tiongson