A forensic insight


Doug Wyler, a forensic anthropologist with the LAPD, discusses crime-solving methods used by experts in his field on Oct. 23. Photo credit: Richard Lomibao

Christopher Valdez

Death is a touchy subject and rarely something anyone deals with on a frequent basis. That is unless you happen to be Doug Wyler, a forensic anthropologist who works with the Los Angeles Police Department. City College students got a sneak peak into a day-in-the-life of this personality on Oct. 23 in the MS Building.

One of the first things Wyler pointed out was what he called the “CSI effect.” This concept has people under the impression that you can take a small blood sample and run it through a machine and with that you instantly have your suspect. Students were shown that the industry is anything but the easy walk in the park that is portrayed on television.

Wyler touched base on some of the top methods on how to identify a suspect. There are methods as simple as identifying a body through recognition all the way down to dental records and DNA samples. He explained how skin can be moistened and softened up in order to stretch the dead skin out and check the deceased’s tattoos.

If a body in a warm climate such as San Diego were left out in the sun for two weeks, the body could become mummified under these conditions. If a body were in a moist forest or jungle-like climate, it could be picked to the bone by insects and bacteria in the area, making this a very difficult and time consuming job.

Some of the most popular methods once a body is beyond the point of a visual recognition is a digital rendering or creating a sculpture to recreate the deceased’s face in the hopes of identifying the individual.

Despite such a gruesome topic, Wyler had a very positive and upbeat attitude and was quick with the jokes, getting constant laughs from the audience. One of the main messages he delivered was for students not to give up and strive for what it is they want. Definitely not something most of the students thought they would hear at a presentation called “The Science of Death and Mayhem.”

“I always separate myself from the crime scene, I look at it from an objective standpoint and I try not to let my emotions come into play,” Wyler said about being successful in forensic anthropology.

Wyler also suggests that all the hardships that come along with being a student should be looked at the same way. He explained that although things may seem impossible at times, a little persistence and the right attitude can make the impossible possible.