GOSHEN — Students in Brent Reinhardt’s law education class interrupted Gary Chupp’s period 7 study hall to arrest him for the murder of Buddy (the blow-up baseball dummy).
The arrest was the result of a weeklong investigation in which students found clues (created by Reinhardt), examined evidence and interrogated suspects, leading students to the conclusion that Chupp was the perpetrator. However, Chupp maintains his innocence and upon his arrest refused to cooperate, demanding a lawyer.
“I may have been mad at Buddy, but I would never kill him. I’m innocent. Absolutely,” Chupp said.
Reinhardt developed the simulated murder investigation, modified from an idea he found online, to give students some hands-on learning as part of their unit on investigations. Prior to investigating the murder, students completed two cases from the CSI online game, in which they learned investigation techniques.
The investigation included some interdisciplinary learning as students worked with math teacher Renae Yoder to determine a time of death by using Newton’s law of body cooling, and with science teacher Calvin Swartzendruber — who teaches a J-Term course on forensic science — to dust a fingerprint.
Students collaborated together, but also had specific roles in the investigation, including interrogating people or working in the crime lab. Liz DeLeeuw, who was the crime scene photographer, was struck by the amount of detail that she needed to pay attention to as she photographed the scene and potential evidence, and to the amount of thought, planning and time that goes into an investigation.
She said, “It was frustrating at times as we had uncooperative suspects and had to obtain warrants. I can’t imagine how much frustration real law officials feel as they follow the law while also having the pressure of trying to protect society and bring a suspect to justice in a timely manner.”