Halloween bloodbath gave VHS criminal justice students a lesson in 'spatter'

Jeff Bobo • Oct 31, 2019 at 8:30 PM

CHURCH HILL – More blood spilled Thursday in Kevin Hilton's Criminal Justice classroom than was extracted by Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers during their entire horror movie careers combined.

Volunteer High School’s Criminal Justice classroom was the gruesome scene of a lesson in blood spatter investigation that had the walls, floor, ceiling and even some of Hilton’s 85 students dripping with gore.

“Since this was Halloween, I thought it would be a good opportunity to show them how to do blood spatter, how to measure it, analyze it, look at it,” Hilton told the Times News. “This is one of the most popular hands on activities that we do. Kids just seem to love it.”

Recently, students have been studying criminal theory, which isn't very exciting. Hilton said activities such as the blood spatter lesson helps them get active and away from the book work theories for a while.

It gave students a chance to get their hands dirty, as well as their shoes. The rest of the students’ attire was protected by a large garbage bag suit during the bludgeoning.

Other hands-on activities Hilton's students participate in over the course of a semester are handwriting analysis, fingerprinting, mock trials, shredded document reconstruction and crime solving using packets of clues and deductive reasoning.

The VHS criminal justice program is about six years old, and some of Hilton’s past students are already employed in local law enforcement, including one current Church Hill officer and a former Mount Carmel officer who recently left for the Tennessee Highway Patrol training program.

Several of Hilton's current students have aspirations for a career in law enforcement as well, but Thursday they first got a taste of what it feels like to be a club wielding maniac.

In order to study blood spatter they first had to create the blood spatter, using either a mallet or a club — student’s choice —  to repeatedly beat a clay brain that was filled with fake blood and resting on a dummy head.

Making the blood was a lesson in itself. Students had to make their own from a combination of potential ingredients such as fruit punch and/or ketchup for color; corn syrup and/or dish soap as a thickener; and flour or brown sugar to make it sticky.

Hilton demonstrated for students the three types of velocity to blood spatter which are important to be able to identify in re-creating a violent crime scene.

Low velocity are big round drops that hit the floor due to gravity, and was easy to demonstrate because it was dripping off the club when the bludgeoning was concluded. 

Medium velocity is caused by a bludgeoning and follows the direction of the force that caused the injury. That’s what’s was on the walls after students beat the brain with a club, and Hilton explained that “tails” are created in the stains by the angle of the impact.

High velocity is usually caused by a gunshot. Obviously that was one type of spatter that couldn’t be duplicated Thursday, although Hilton did simulate “arterial gushing” by having students hit a puddle of blood with a club.

Other types of spatter that were simulated included passive (drops on a floor), cast off (blood that might be flung to the ceiling from a weapon), transfer (such as hand prints or foot prints), and impact stains (what's splattered on the wall).