News

Biotrauma featured in the St. Louis Post Dispatch

Sunday March 15, 2009 – Kevin Horrigan of the St. Louis Post Dispatch wrote about Biotrauma today, March 15th, 2009. The article touched on the military history of Biotrauma officers Ryan Sawyer and Ben Lichtenwalner, to include the nature of our crime scene cleanup and biotrauma cleanup procedures.

Biotrauma currently does not serve the metro St. Louis area, but does maintain a network of affiliate service provides to make reference to in the event that a resident would contact us.

Georgia Coroners Association – Unidentified Persons Database

Friday January 30, 2009 – Georgia Coroners’ Association President Ralph Wilson says he’s wants to talk about launching the group’s unidentified persons database at the next executive meeting in Macon.

“I’m fixing to push it,” he said Jan. 28.

The association has a link on its Web site for submitting information to an unidentified decedent database, but “to this point, it has not been used,” according to Wilson.

The president said he plans for the Georgia Coroner’s Association to work in conjunction with the National Unidentified Decedent Data System, also known as NamUs. That system allows coroners and medical examiners from all over the country to enter information and to search for unidentified persons.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that the nation’s coroners and medical examiners handle an average of 4,400 unidentified remains combined each year. According to the most recent BJS survey, about 13,500 persons were unidentified by the end of 2004.

Only half of medical examiners and coroners’ offices in 2004 had policies for retaining records on unidentified human remains,” BJS reported.

Wilson said he intends for the Georgia Coroner’s Association to begin making use of the reporting system on its Web site as soon as possible – and in fact, said he already had an unidentified person he needed to add to the database.

Gunshot Residue Collection Kits

Wednesday February 04, 2009 – The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has changed its approved GSR kit supplier from Sirchie to Tri-Tech Inc. According to GBI, the new kits will get better quality results and take less time for analysis. There are new collection procedures with the Tri-Tech, so crime scene technicians should carefully read the instructions before using a kit for the first time.

Beginning March 1, GBI labs will accept only the Tri-Tech kits for analysis. At the same time, GBI will stop conducting GSR analysis on kits collected from gunshot victims, including victims of suicide. Residue found on victims provides no additional information, GBI explained in a law enforcement alert.

This last may not be a hard-and-fast rule. Anyone with special circumstances regarding a victim with GSR should contact Tammy Jergovich, Trace Evidence Section Manager, at 404-270-8266 or Michael McCarriagher, GSR analyst, at 404-270-8530.
Meanwhile, GBI has lost its supplier for Blood Alcohol/Urine Only collection kits. For now, GBI suggests that agencies order generic kits from Sirchie or Tri-Tech. The prices will be much higher without a statewide contract in place, so agencies should keep orders small until a new supplier is found.

A Division of Forensic Sciences submission forms will need to accompany the generic kits.

Anti-Digital Forensics

Wednesday February 04, 2009 – The recent issue of Forensic Magazine included a column explaining problems created by suspect use of Anti-Digital Forensics. ADF is “an approach to manipulate, erase, or obfuscate digital data or to make its examination difficult, time consuming, or virtually impossible,” as explained by John J. Barbara, Crime Laboratory Analyst Supervisor with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
One issue Barbara highlighted is that many of the common tools used in computer forensics are designed for point-and-click use by techs who don’t necessarily have extensive knowledge in the field. Those tools can be fooled when a suspect uses ADF techniques prior to an examination.

“There are many tools, methods, and techniques readily available that can affect the digital information, potentially causing it to be inaccurate and unreliable,” Barbara wrote.

Fortunately, there are techniques to detect and counter manipulation. Barbara explains some of these – such as examining hash values and checking for the presence of steganography tools on suspect computers to uncover hidden files – and will continue in the next issue of Forensic.

New Crime Lab Speeds Conviction Process

Wednesday February 04, 2009 – According to the Mooresville (NC) Tribune, jurors took less than 15 minutes to convict a suspect in a gun and drug case after testimony by the head of Iredell County’s new crime lab.

Sheriff Phil Redmond told the paper that it would have taken at least 18 months for the state crime lab to analyze evidence in the case against Timothy Leroy Nixon. He was charged with possession of crack cocaine and possession of a .38 caliber pistol.
Instead, the North Carolina county has opened its own crime lab, and the sheriff told the newspaper that helped expedite the case when prosecutors needed additional testing conducted.

Todd Huml, director of the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office Crime Lab, testified about the forensic evidence at Nixon’s federal trial, according to the newspaper.

Biotrauma, Inc. Now Serving Alabama

Thursday February 05, 2009 – After serving in Iraq as the first group of Marines to ever perform the duties of search and recovery for fallen servicemen, Ben Lichtenwalner and Ryan Sawyer returned home to create Biotrauma, Inc. – a compassionate death scene cleaning service for the emotionally distraught. Now in their third year, Biotrauma (www.biotrauma.com) has expanded to offer its services in Alabama.

Since they’ve been in operation, Biotrauma has been spreading the word in the State of Georgia that a service like theirs is available to those in need.

“We estimate that nearly 80% of all incidents requiring a professional cleanup get handled by the family themselves” says Lichtenwalner. “People can’t just crack open the phone book to find someone who does what we do.”

Biotrauma states that improperly decontaminated homes pose risks for the contraction of bloodborne pathogens related illnesses such as H.I.V., Hepatitis, and others.

“Some studies have shown that the Hepatitis B virus can live outside the body for up to two weeks” says Sawyer. “It’s very important that families in these situations protect themselves by having things professionally remediated.”

Despite the physical risks present at a trauma scene, Sawyer and Lichtenwalner feel that the emotional stress associated with bio-hazardous incidents are the prime concern for their efforts.
“Nothing is more rewarding than assisting a family in obtaining closure after the loss of a loved one” relates Lichtenwalner.

Ryan Sawyer cites a biotrauma remediation performed back in late 2007 during the Christmas season wherein Biotrauma was called out to decontaminate a suicide incident. A young man had taken his life nearby the family’s Christmas tree, which ultimately had to be disposed.

“We were able to replace the tree for the family before we were finished, and we could really tell what that meant to them” Sawyer says. The Marines of Biotrauma say that this kind of scenario best represents their true calling.

Second Annual Shore Sweep – A Success!

Monday August 25, 2008 – Saturday, August 23rd 2008 was Biotrauma, Inc.’s second annual Shore Sweep of Lake Lanier. The effort was a success bringing out some 25 volunteers and several truckloads of refuse removed from the Lake Lanier coastline.

The event was covered by Accessnorthga.com, and after 5 hours of cleanup, left the shore clean of dock styrofoam particles and lots of household trash. Next year, we look forward to an even greater turnout and cleaner environment.

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week – 2009

Friday January 30, 2009 – Local organizations have three months to plan for NCVRW. The theme for this year’s event, which runs April 26 to May 2, is “25 Years of Rebuilding Lives: Celebrating the Victims of Crime Act.” The colors this year are cranberry red and blue.

VOCA was passed in 1984 under President Ronald Reagan, creating the Office for Victims of Crime to provide federal funding for state victims’ compensation funds. In fiscal year 2007, victims received more than $453 million.

The program also offers advanced training – such as the upcoming National Victim Assistance Academy – to local victim advocates.

Victim assistance units can receive a guide to planning local NCVRW events by signing up online with the Office for Victims of Crimes. Free copies are limited, so add your organization to the mailing list now.

There will be two events held in Washington D.C. prior to the beginning of NCVRW. The National Observance and Candlelight Ceremony is scheduled for April 23 at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The National Crime Victims’ Service Awards Ceremony will be held the next day at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium. Registration is required to attend the awards ceremony.

Directory of Crime Victim Services

Friday January 30, 2009 – Make sure victims find your agency when they need help after an incident. The Office for Victims of Crime operates an online directory searchable by agency, location, and types of services offered.

Most local agencies that have received federal grants for victim services are automatically listed in the search engine. Others need to apply for listing.
To make sure your organization’s information is correct, go to the Directory of Crime Victim Services, select the state, type the agency name, or search by city. If anything needs to be changed in your entry, click the “Update Your Listing” button at the top of the search results page.

Or, if you do not receive federal funds and want to add your organization, click the “Add Your Agency” button on the same page and follow the instructions. The content will be reviewed for verification and to make sure it meets OVC criteria before it is posted.

Important: If you receive VOCA grants, do not use the Web site to update information. Contact your state grant administrator.

Biotrauma, Inc. featured on WCFO 1160 A.M.

Tuesday November 06, 2007 – Biotrauma, Inc. was recently featured on WCFO 1160 A.M. Business Radio on Jeff Davis’ show “Atlanta’s Businesses.”

Officers Benjamin Lichtenwalner and Ryan Sawyer expand on the company’s foundation and service offering as “crime scene cleaners” serving Atlanta and the southeast.

Click here to listen to the show, and choose the first audio option on the right.

Let’s Stay in Touch

Newsletter Signup

Call 866-435-7704

Fax: 888-678-5021  We accept all major credit cards   Sitemap