Life and Death at a Human Decomposition Facility
Podcast |
Outside/In
Media Type |
audio
Categories Via RSS |
Natural Sciences
News
Science
Society & Culture
Publication Date |
Jun 23, 2022
Episode Duration |
00:36:33

Few bear witness to human decomposition. We embalm and seal bodies in caskets, and bury them six feet underground. Decomposition happens out of sight and out of mind, or in the case of cremation, is skipped over entirely.

But at human decomposition facilities, sometimes known as "body farms," students and researchers see rotting corpses every day. They watch as scavengers and bacteria feast on them. And when it's all over, they clean the skeletons, and file them away in a collection.

In this episode, producer Felix Poon visits a human decomposition facility in North Carolina to  see what the people who work there have learned about death, find out how a human body decomposes, and why a person might choose to wind up there in the first place. 

Featuring: Nick Passalacqua, Rebecca George, Carter Unger, Maggie Klemm, Carlee Green, Victoria Deal, Kadri Greene, Mackenzie Gascon, Reagan Baechle, Leigh Irwin, and Lucinda Denton

 

LINKS

You can watch Bill Bass tell the story of Colonel William Shy and the time since death estimation he got so wrong that led to him founding the first ever “Body Farm.”

If you want to hear from pre-registered donors about their decision to donate their bodies, you can watch a WBIR-TV segment, The Body Farm: A donor explains why she’s ready to hand off her corpse to the forensic center about Lucinda Denton, who we feature in this episode. And you can read Fawn Fitter’s article, afterlife-on-the-body-farm.html">My Afterlife on the Body Farm (NY Times), about how she intends to help solve crimes as part of a world-renowned criminal justice program after she dies.

If you’re curious to read more about the “CSI Effect,” check this article out: ‘CSI effect’ draws more women to forensics.

And if you want to read up on how the field of forensics is talking about evolving their concepts of race and gender, you can read Decolonizing ancestry estimation in the United States, and with-cover-page-v2.pdf?Expires=1655765057&Signature=bOwfB8El10daggik4DfgQITLKQ-mhNJIXeYTlHwqgF40HnKwmNeJ1ikQgeuIcIuhCKU6TkjzdJ1ZhQci13PL2tvQFw0~hyphar6mteCuhV61gwLjqEbrRYUi7Mee8-5W1s2~7BmNjLuNv~6qNnV-MzBYZb0JvFb8bJXpxVQwUkjqrNzKBsD-TZpLLIipdlVbm3sfSINcBt9~0e-oS~ZTCS9vQ3tLk4G-1mSIzHy9doT~89-Pv~qea0Psbyx1XbG9tgJZA2pkT~Zp2dvBIbQnCpokSGQjXZbUfFfcRCIGP7BtSK-VjQA0YIQI4TATGnB~3WVYEZYS-FJ~HvPJ66dA2Q__&Key-Pair-Id=APKAJLOHF5GGSLRBV4ZA">Centering Transgender Individuals in Forensic Anthropology and Expanding Binary Sex Estimation in Casework and Research.

 

SUPPORT

Outside/In is made possible with listener support. Click here to become a sustaining member of Outside/In

Subscribe to our FREE newsletter.

Follow Outside/In on Instagram or Twitter, or join our private discussion group on Facebook.

 

CREDITS

Host: Nate Hegyi

Reported and produced by: Felix Poon

Editing by Taylor Quimby, with help and feedback from Nate Hegyi, Rebecca Lavoie, Justine Paradis, and Jessica Hunt.Rebecca Lavoie is our Executive Producer

Special Thanks to: Fawn Fitter, Katie Zejdlik, Jimmy Holt, Carter Unger, Maggie Klemm, Carlee Green, Victoria Deal, Kadri Greene, Mackenzie Gascon, Reagan Baechle, and Leigh Irwin.

Music for this episode by Blue Dot Sessions.

Our theme music is by Breakmaster Cylinder.

Outside/In is a production of New Hampshire Public Radio

Meet the people who study dead bodies at a human decomposition facility.

Few bear witness to human decomposition. We embalm and seal bodies in caskets, and bury them six feet underground. Decomposition happens out of sight and out of mind, or in the case of cremation, is skipped over entirely.

But at human decomposition facilities, sometimes known as "body farms," students and researchers see rotting corpses every day. They watch as scavengers and bacteria feast on them. And when it's all over, they clean the skeletons, and file them away in a collection.

In this episode, producer Felix Poon visits a human decomposition facility in North Carolina to  see what the people who work there have learned about death, find out how a human body decomposes, and why a person might choose to wind up there in the first place. 

Featuring: Nick Passalacqua, Rebecca George, Carter Unger, Maggie Klemm, Carlee Green, Victoria Deal, Kadri Greene, Mackenzie Gascon, Reagan Baechle, Leigh Irwin, and Lucinda Denton

 

LINKS

You can watch Bill Bass tell the story of Colonel William Shy and the time since death estimation he got so wrong that led to him founding the first ever “Body Farm.”

If you want to hear from pre-registered donors about their decision to donate their bodies, you can watch a WBIR-TV segment, The Body Farm: A donor explains why she’s ready to hand off her corpse to the forensic center about Lucinda Denton, who we feature in this episode. And you can read Fawn Fitter’s article, afterlife-on-the-body-farm.html">My Afterlife on the Body Farm (NY Times), about how she intends to help solve crimes as part of a world-renowned criminal justice program after she dies.

If you’re curious to read more about the “CSI Effect,” check this article out: ‘CSI effect’ draws more women to forensics.

And if you want to read up on how the field of forensics is talking about evolving their concepts of race and gender, you can read Decolonizing ancestry estimation in the United States, and with-cover-page-v2.pdf?Expires=1655765057&Signature=bOwfB8El10daggik4DfgQITLKQ-mhNJIXeYTlHwqgF40HnKwmNeJ1ikQgeuIcIuhCKU6TkjzdJ1ZhQci13PL2tvQFw0~hyphar6mteCuhV61gwLjqEbrRYUi7Mee8-5W1s2~7BmNjLuNv~6qNnV-MzBYZb0JvFb8bJXpxVQwUkjqrNzKBsD-TZpLLIipdlVbm3sfSINcBt9~0e-oS~ZTCS9vQ3tLk4G-1mSIzHy9doT~89-Pv~qea0Psbyx1XbG9tgJZA2pkT~Zp2dvBIbQnCpokSGQjXZbUfFfcRCIGP7BtSK-VjQA0YIQI4TATGnB~3WVYEZYS-FJ~HvPJ66dA2Q__&Key-Pair-Id=APKAJLOHF5GGSLRBV4ZA">Centering Transgender Individuals in Forensic Anthropology and Expanding Binary Sex Estimation in Casework and Research.

 

SUPPORT

Outside/In is made possible with listener support. Click here to become a sustaining member of Outside/In

Subscribe to our FREE newsletter.

Follow Outside/In on Instagram or Twitter, or join our private discussion group on Facebook.

 

CREDITS

Host: Nate Hegyi

Reported and produced by: Felix Poon

Editing by Taylor Quimby, with help and feedback from Nate Hegyi, Rebecca Lavoie, Justine Paradis, and Jessica Hunt.Rebecca Lavoie is our Executive Producer

Special Thanks to: Fawn Fitter, Katie Zejdlik, Jimmy Holt, Carter Unger, Maggie Klemm, Carlee Green, Victoria Deal, Kadri Greene, Mackenzie Gascon, Reagan Baechle, and Leigh Irwin.

Music for this episode by Blue Dot Sessions.

Our theme music is by Breakmaster Cylinder.

Outside/In is a production of New Hampshire Public Radio

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