Real body found at mock crime scene in Florida

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Wednesday, June 7, 2006

When 29 students attended a fake crime scene in Fort Lauderdale Park during a field trip set up by their teacher, Sue Messenger, they found the body of a homeless man. Police said he died of natural causes and there was nothing to indicate that foul play was involved. The students are part of a criminology class at St. Thomas Aquinas High School.

At first, some students thought the body was a "dummy". "We thought it was Ms. Messenger messing around with us," said 16-year-old Josh Rozental, who was the one that had discovered the body. "When I went over, knowing what I know about rigor mortis and postmortem lividity, it was apparent to me that actually this was a deceased individual. So the biggest thing is I wanted them to move off…. I knew there was going to be an investigation and I just wanted them to back off and for us to not to disturb anything," said Messenger.

"It was a good crash course. The first thing we thought was, 'that's a real good dummy she set up,'" said 15-year-old Juan Cantor, a student at the high school.

For 20 years Messenger has been using "paper skeletons, fake weapons, notes, shell casings, and sunglasses" that students could find to further their education. The study was in its fifth of 13 days.

"The students went up to this one area … and found a man with his back against the wall and he looked dead. They thought it was part of the skit," said Kathy Collins a Fort Lauderdale Police detective.

Police said the man was David Wayne Bodie, 45.