An expensive window on a new home in Iberville Parish is shattered by a rock.
Crime scene investigator Lori Morgan responds to the homeowner’s report, pulling up to the scene in her big white crime unit.
She unpacks her gloves, camera and other equipment, surveys the scene, then finds a limestone rock and swabs it for DNA.
Lab and forensic results reveal a sweaty fingerprint, a small-yet-revealing piece of proof that gives law enforcement enough evidence to nab a suspect, Morgan said.
“Criminals think they are smart, but chances are, they don’t think it all the way through,” she said.
Morgan gave 70 students in the Iberville Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Starship program a glimpse into her detective work for the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Unit.
Before entering any crime scene, she grabs her metal detector, blue light, crime scene tape and markers.
Unlike CSI television shows, real-life forensics experts and detectives “can’t solve a crime in 45 minutes, and everything’s not available on a Smartboard,” she told students.
True detective work includes processing a scene, observing it, documenting and marking items of evidence, she said.
Morgan discussed her latest piece of detective work and the reopening of a 20-year-old murder investigation involving a homicide committed in Baton Rouge and the discovery of the woman’s body in St. Gabriel.
“Iberville Parish has swamps and waterways and unfortunately bad people will dump bodies here,” she explained.
Morgan’s passion for solving such cases is part of what makes her so dedicated to her work.
“Everybody is a daughter, a sister, a mother, or a wife or girlfriend to somebody,” Morgan said. “This family has not known for 20 years what happened to their daughter. Now that DNA is so much more advanced 20 years later, there is a chance we can solve it.”
The reward for solving a cold case is twofold. “The family will know, and we will know,” she said.
Morgan’s work also included collecting evidence from former television personality Scott Rogers’ home, the scene of a murder-suicide in August 2014.
“I see some very disturbing things on crime scenes,” she said. “I go back because it’s the unknown that drives me through the door everyday.”
Morgan described another double-shooting investigation in Iberville Parish.
“It was our job to find the bullets … and that led us to the casings and bullet fragments,” which helped catch the suspects, she said, adding, “The smallest piece of evidence can give you the biggest break in the crime and that can be exciting.”
Chante Dionne Warren is a freelance writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.