Officials gather in SWLA for Death and Bone Conference - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Officials gather in SWLA for Death and Bone Conference

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

The Calcasieu Parish Coroner's Office presented some extra education for law enforcement from across the state of Louisiana Wednesday.

From sexual assault victims, to forensic anthropology. Law enforcement officers, coroners, and nurses from across Louisiana learned about that and everything in between at the first ever death and bone conference in southwest Louisiana. 

"Like anything, it's education for the investigators, for the crime scene investigators, for the coroner's office to explain what they're looking for, for the sane nurse to explain what they're looking for," said Lake Charles Police Chief Don Dixon. "Like anything, it just makes us better." 

Almost 200 attended the conference, some from as far away as Washington Parish. The goal was to educate about what different examiners and experts need and look for when dealing with criminal cases. 

"If there's some sort of a uniformity in different areas that will help provide information for people that are going to be doing postmortem examination, so if and when something should go to court, it helps them with testifying and either exonerate the person or put the bad guy in jail," said Dr. Terry Welke, Calcasieu Parish Coroner. "I think if there's uniformity among all these area, it's very helpful." 

The conference addressed cold cases, solved murders and sexual assault cases.

"Last year there was 196 assault victims in this parish, and those victims deserve a quality investigation, a quality examination, because ultimately we want to go to court with the best evidence possible," said Chief Dixon. 

Mary Manhein, from LSU's Department of Anthropology, wrapped up the conference discussing how skeletal remains are handled and identified after they're located. Chief Dixon has been in law enforcement for years, but he says there's still more to learn. 

"As Chief I read every daily report," said Chief Dixon. "I come to these things to educate myself. You're never too old to learn something, especially in the area of forensics and new techniques. Like anything, education is important. Education is power."

While this was the first of its kind in southwest Louisiana, others have been held around the state. The coroner's Chief Investigator Zeb Johnson hopes this is the first of many death and bone conferences to come to southwest Louisiana. 

Copyright 2012 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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