The Crime Scene in the Forest

Directions: Read the following case study and solve the crime. The Crime Scene in the Forest was written by Dr. Beachy Orr at Lake Tahoe CC and adapted by Beth Ritter-Guth and Julianne Labbiento at LCCC. In 2015, the Crime Scene was rebuilt in the virtual world Second Life, and is being used by students in the American Honors program. Many thanks to Dr. Orr for permission to use this material.

Alfred was found dead at Fairview Campsite #5 in Mountain State Park late this afternoon. The call was placed by three of his friends, Harry, Winston, and George, who, after an afternoon of hunting, came back to the campsite to find his body. Responding officers arrived at 6:43 PM and found a body presumed to be Alfred lying partially on his side beneath a nearby tree. Initial examination revealed that the victim was wearing a brace on the right ankle. He sustained a cut on his left shoulder and a wound to the front of his head. The body was not yet in rigor mortis, so he died in the last few hours of the afternoon.


Alfred, 56, was about 5’9”, bald and slightly chubby. He was the manager of the Field of Dreams Country Club, a very exclusive private golf course, on Wandering Brook Way. He was divorced three years ago, and had just recently married his old high school sweetheart, Jill.

Harry, 54, is a blond, thin man who works at the Eagle Piano Bar on Third Street.
Harry states that this camping trip was the one vacation this group of college buddies took every year in Mountain State Park. They would set up camp on Friday evening, spend most of the night reminiscing about the old days at U. of Michigan, and get up on Saturday about 10 AM for a day of hunting. Harry also states that Alfred had stumbled down his stairs two days ago and had sustained a very slight crack near the ankle. Jill had driven Alfred to the campsite and dropped him off. He wanted to be in on the campsite fun, but was not going to hunt. Saturday morning, Harry, Winston, and George all gathered their hunting gear at 9:45 AM, and a few minutes later left for their favorite hunting area in the woods. George and Harry hunt with guns, while Winston likes to hunt with his bow and arrows. This year, as they neared the grove of aspen trees they always started at, they decided to split up for a few hours and meet at 4:30 at the top of the hill three miles away. The forest gets very dense in this area so Harry remembers that they goodheartedly reminded each other to aim carefully. Harry says he started off on the trail to the left, because this path at one point actually comes to within a mile of the campsite parking area. Harry then admits that he is having an affair with Jill, and actually snuck off to his car (that he had parked a few campsites over) to visit her this afternoon, knowing Alfred was stuck, due to his bad ankle, at the campsite for the day. Harry says that he made it back to the hill for the 4:30 meeting, carrying the squirrel he had just enough time to shoot. Harry states that they all walked back to the campsite together and found Alfred dead next to the tree. He states that Jill will attest to his whereabouts that afternoon.

STATEMENT OF WINSTON (friend and sometime business partner)
Winston, 55, is a dark-haired, very tall man. He is an accountant working out of his home. He does all his friends’ taxes. He states that he and Alfred have had a number of business dealings in the past. He shows the police his state-of-the-art bow and his hand-made arrows that he used to shoot the wild pig he found running through the forest. He states that he always uses blue feathers for his arrows, because they reflect light the way he likes. He states that when the three men broke up at the edge of the forest, he proceeded to take the trail to the right and over the course of the afternoon stalked and shot the pig. He met Harry and Winston on the top of the hill, laughed at the ratty squirrel that Harry had shot, and then they went back to the campsite, only to find Alfred dead. He states that he and Alfred have always been great pals, and that Violet, the waitress at the Ham N’ Egger Café, would corroborate that they had a fun time at lunch there once a week.

George, 56, is a short man with dark red hair. He tells the police that he and his four other buddies have been fast friends ever since they met as part of the same biology class at U. of Michigan. Actually, Samuel is the only one missing this year from this camping trip, because he was upset with Alfred. George admits that he also was upset with Alfred. George last year quit working as a department store manager, and, after setting up a shop in his garage, designed his own special brand of golf clubs. He says he asked Alfred to set up a meeting with the Field of Dreams Country Club members, so he could show them his clubs. George says that he knows all that it would take to set him on the road to success in this endeavor is to have this well-known country club endorse his line of golf clubs. But he admits that Alfred said no, and so refused to realize the importance of this for George’s new career. George confirms that he, Harry, and Winston did split up and that he took the trail that went straight into the woods from the grove of aspen trees where they started. He wandered all over in the next few hours but only found a raccoon, which he shot. He met up with the other two at the top of the hill. They returned to the campsite to find Alfred dead.


Primary series:

One horizontal blood-filled gash on lateral aspect of the left arm.

One large and deep indentation wound to the front of the skull on the left side; three inches
above and two inches lateral to the eye. The skull is cracked and the wound appeared bloody.

A brace is attached to his right ankle.

Samuel, 56, is a tall, medium-sized brown-haired man. He has a solo veterinary practice. His practice is not doing well as of late, and he says he owes money for the rent on his office. He admits that he asked Alfred for some money the day before to pay off his debts, however Alfred had refused. He called George, being quite angry, and told him that he would not be going on the camping trip this year. Samuel says he spent yesterday afternoon working around the house, fixing a broken window and cleaning the garage. He admits that no one would be able to testify to his whereabouts, since he lives alone.


Violet, 36, is a tall blonde woman. She is a waitress at the Ham N’ Egger Café in town. She also is a black-belt karate master, and gives kids lessons on Saturday mornings. She overheard Alfred and Winston arguing in the café a few days ago about money. As she listened more closely while pouring them coffee, she realized that they were skimming money from the golf course. She also had noticed that Alfred hobbled in and saw the brace on his foot. She needed some cash for a private venture she wanted to start and went to the campsite that Saturday, knowing that Alfred would not be able to hunt and would be sitting alone near the tent. She tells the police that she tried to discuss the idea of her being in on the scam, but that Alfred had decided to turn himself in now that he had found the perfect woman, Jill. Violet says she and Alfred argued back and forth, and as he turned to walk away from her, she was mad and aimed three high kicks toward his neck. Alfred did fall to the ground holding his neck, but he was still alive when she left. She cannot pinpoint the exact time she arrived and left the campsite. She did not drink anything while there. She did however notice an arrow with red and yellow fletching stuck in a tree nearby, and that Alfred’s shirt had a cut in it over his arm and there was a bloody towel lying nearby. When she had asked Alfred about his wound, he said it was nothing, just probably a wayward arrow from a drunken hunter.


Winston went to the police station to give a second statement. He now admits that he actually circled back to campsite #5 after the three men had split up and hid behind the big pine tree and watched Alfred move around the campsite. He wanted to kill Alfred because their scam was perfect, but Alfred was starting to have second thoughts. But, after his first arrow only winged him, Winston thought better of it and ran back to meet up with the hunting group. He admits that he carried one different colored arrow for this. The arrow only grazed his arm, and Winston swears that Alfred was alive when Winston turned and ran. Winston only drank Corona beer that evening.

STATEMENT OF JILL (wife of Alfred)
Jill, 54, is medium height and has raven black hair. She married Alfred two months ago – even though she admits that she is still in love with Harry. They have been having an affair for the last two years. Harry is always broke however. Since Jill was tired of working, she decided to finally accept Alfred’s proposal of marriage. When questioned about Alfred’s broken fibula, she admits that she pretended to trip near the top of the stairs and “accidentally” pushed him down the stairs. But she claims that she felt terrible about it, and after dropping Alfred off at the campsite, she had such guilty feelings for the rest of the evening, that she went to visit him at the campsite early the next afternoon to apologize. She says that they talked and Alfred was alive when she left him. Also when questioned, she said she was drinking a lemonade, but she took it with her and finished it in the car on the way home.


Harry says that he did go to Jill and Alfred’s home, but now admits that he did not find Jill at home. After waiting a little while, Harry finally drove back to the campsite parking area, tromped around in the woods, killed the squirrel, and then met Winston and George.
He also states that he is a recovering alcoholic and just drank water Friday night.


George says he only drank Coors beer that Friday night. He also admits that the golf club found at the scene is one of his new designs. He wanted to show it off to his friends.


Secondary series:

A wallet, found in the back pocket of the victim’s pants contained a drivers license and
several credit cards issued to Alfred.

Dental records obtained from Alfred’s dentist show a positive match to the victim.

X rays show a partial fracture of the right distal fibula.

A bloody gash three inches long and one inch deep was found on the lateral aspect of the left
upper arm.

A three-inch indentation was found in the frontal bone and flesh above it, two inches superior and three inches lateral to the eye socket. The frontal bone was cracked and a large hematoma was found in the brain. The skin was split and bloody over the impact area.

Samuel admits to being at the camping site. He says that Alfred was already dead when he arrived, and he noticed that there was an arrow stuck in the tree that must have killed him. He then left right away. Samuel also says that he brought a Corona from home and was just finishing it when he arrived at the campsite. He figures he must have dropped the Corona bottle when he saw Alfred was dead.


All human blood found at the crime scene is Alfred’s.
Blood on the arrow is Alfred’s.
Blood on the cloth is Alfred’s.
Blood on the tree trunk is Alfred’s.
Some of the blood on the golf club is Alfred’s, the remaining blood
on the golf club is animal, probably from a raccoon.
Brown stain on claw hammer is rust.


All hair on golf club is animal, probably raccoon.

No prints were found on the arrow, the claw hammer, the golf club, or the tent.
Prints found on Coors cans were from George and Alfred.
Prints found on Corona bottles were from Samuel and Winston.
Prints found on water bottles were from Harry.


Gash in arm – not lethal
Bruising on posterior neck – not lethal
Blood alcohol level = 0.23
Alfred died of compression of the brain due to a hematoma and cranial trauma
from a blunt instrument, approximately three inches in diameter.