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Pasco's "body farm" ready to expand with research complex

Facility could get international attention
Posted: 4:26 PM, Sep 19, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-19 22:11:30Z

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — Behind a fence near Pasco County’s jail, donated cadavers are exposed to the elements.

It’s the only so-called “body farm” in a sub-tropical climate.

“It doesn’t take somebody splitting atoms to realize that the weather, the humidity, even our soils are very different here,” said researcher Heather Walsh-Haney.

Forensics experts will study how remains decay differently in Florida’s climate. She says it happens much faster here than in other places.

“I can have skeletonized remains in about five days,” she said.

The data will be used to solve death investigations, even those that are decades old.

“What really inspires people to enter my field is not the solve so much as 'what’s that bone? Why is it like that?'” said forensic anthropologist, Dr. Phoebe Stubblefield.

It’s all part of Florida’s Forensic Institute for Research, Security, and Tactics.

Wednesday officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for the complex that will accompany the body farm.

They expect the facility to account for nearly 80 jobs and bring hundreds of people to the area for training.

“This particular location will help us activate the part of US 41 that’s been fairly difficult for us to draw business,” said Pasco County Economic Development Council CEO Bill Cronin. 

The field is named for one of the first to be buried here: Adam Kennedy, an elementary school principal killed in a car accident.