Texas State Forensic Research Facility to locate at Freeman Ranch

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
February 12, 2008

Texas State University-San Marcos will locate its planned Forensic Research Facility on the 3,000-acre Freeman Ranch, a move announced by Provost Perry Moore today.

The Forensic Research Facility will be an open-air lab of approximately five acres surrounded by high security fencing.  Within this lab, human bodies that have been donated to the facility will be allowed to decompose in a natural environment under the study of forensic anthropologists.  The facility will be located in an area of Texas State’s Freeman Ranch that is away from all properties bordering the ranch. The closest bordering properties are approximately one mile away. It will be operational by late spring, Moore said.

The facility, which will be an integral part of a graduate program in forensic anthropology at Texas State, will train scientists and assist law enforcement officials in establishing the time of death and the nature of death when bodies are found. It will also provide training in the identification of skeletal and dental remains. Workshops for law enforcement at the facility will include crime scene training, human identification, cadaver dog training and numerous other workshops.

“There is a real need for a laboratory such as this in our region,” said Moore. “What we learn at the facility will be of extraordinary value to the law enforcement community.”

Support for the facility has come from many law enforcement agencies in Texas and nationally.

During the first several years of operation, there will be no more than five or six bodies at the facility at any one time. The total decaying matter at the facility will be no greater than several dead deer or one large cow, therefore, the facility will not significantly increase the total decaying material on the Freeman Ranch or in the area of the ranch.

All bodies in the facility will be treated with respect and according to regular protocol for the study of human remains. A Hazard Analysis Critical Control System will be utilized to protect workers at the facility as well as individuals outside the facility.  Netting and fencing will be used to keep intruders out of the facility, including scavengers and predators such as vultures and coyotes.

“Given that only five acres will be fenced out of more than 3,000 on the Freeman Ranch, coupled with the extensive measures planned to assure the security of the facility, the Forensic Research Facility will have minimal impact on the general operation of the ranch and will in no way undermine the use of the ranch for agriculture, ranching and range management education,” said Moore.