Forensic Friday: Crime Scene Clean Up
I’ve been making my way through several BBC and Acorn TV mystery shows. One I stumbled on recently is called Mr. and Mrs. Murder. An Australian show, it only lasted for one season in 2013. The main characters own a crime scene clean up business and discover clues as they decontaminate the area, and as a result, solve the crime. The program sprinkles quirky, humorous scenes in between drama and sleuthing.
In all my research for the mystery stories I write, I had not thought about what happens after the crime. Until fifteen to twenty years ago, not many other people thought about it either. With the advent of shows such as CSI and NCIS, there was a boom in the industrial clean up profession. “Crime scene clean up” yielded 3,550,000 internet results, and “crime scene cleaners” 965,000. A booming business to be sure.
Not for the faint of heart, crime scene cleaners are responsible to remove blood, body fluids, and other potentially infectious materials. The company’s job is to remove any sign of what happened and any biohazards that resulted from the incident. Employees are trained how to safely handle the biohazardous material and what to look for are the scene. For example, if there is a thumbnail size bloodstain on the carpet, there’s a strong possibility there is a large stain on the floor under the carpet.
Tools of the trade include personal protective gear, biohazard waste containers, cleaning supplies, hospital grade disinfectants, industrial strength deodorizers, and enzyme solvent. Carpentry and restoration tools are also necessary. The area has to be truly clean, not just apparently clean. A job can take from one to over forty hours, and cost from $1,000 to $5,000 on average.
I read several interviews to research the blog, and I was struck by one common denominator. Each interviewee, whether a clean-up company owner or employee, said the same thing about their work. They see it as an “important service to grieving people…helping a family or individual through a very difficult time that will never be forgotten by the clients. They will always remember the team of individuals who were present in their time of need.”