Body Farm lecture

By: Yvonne Nachtigal

Forensic anthropologist and best-selling author, Dr. Bill Bass, spoke before a packed Wemyss Auditorium at Volunteer State Community College on Oct. 23.

Best known as the creator of “The Body Farm,” a site to study the decomposition of human bodies, Bass presented a brief history of the facility.

“The Body Farm is the research facility that I created to find out how long does it take for the body to decay, and what happens,” said Bass.

With insight and humor, Bass showed several slides of decomposing human remains to illustrate what can be learned from them about identity and time of death.

“I have them in color, so you can see the gore,” said Bass.

Bass, now 90, was head of the anthropology program at the University of Tennessee when he opened the now famous facility in the early 1980s.

He has worked throughout the United States and worldwide to help solve some of the world’s most famous crimes.

He is one of only two forensic anthropologists to have viewed the remains of toddler Charles Lindbergh Jr.- better known as “the Lindbergh baby.”

Bass was invited by Vol State Radiology faculty member LuAnn Buck. She inquired about booking him two years ago when a graduate research assistant from The Body Farm came to lecture at Tennessee Tech.

“I asked his assistant about booking him. Student Engagement provided financial support to make it possible,” said Buck.

According to Buck, the event was initially planned to promote the radiology program, but it quickly grew into a public event.

“High school groups from White House Heritage and Beech came. Sumner Middle College attended. We had overflow in the Ramer building. The event was streamed by Zoom to Springfield, Livingston, and Cookeville campuses,” said Buck.