Forensic Friday #7: Dying in a Winter Wonderland

Dr. Eleanor McQuillen’s Crime Scene Painting Dying in a Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland .5For those who love the where’s-the-dead-guy motif, this painting is a treat. The clues are there but they can be easily overlooked in the hustle and bustle of an active ski slope. Clue #1: The ambulance alerts you to an incident. Clue #2 is the bloodstain on the snow. The ski patrol sled can help you find it. Clue #3 is the most subtle of the clues, but the most telling. Two sets of ski tracks collide where trails converge at the edge of the tree line. The red marks the spot. The victims have already been loaded into the ambulance.

This frame melds with the painting more than any other. It picks up the falling snow pattern in the sky and actually adds texture to the ski slope.

Next week’s crime scene painting is a story about life and death in a bucolic setting with A River if Misfortune.

Teaching Opportunity

Adopt a detective’s perspective when looking at this painting and use three simple questions to frame a class discussion.

  • What is going on in this picture?
  • What do you see that makes you say that?
  • What more can we find?

Decide if and when to share the title of the painting as it may guide, or overly influence, the way students view the work. You will also need to decide if it is beneficial to share the back story that this is a crime scene painting and is painted by one of the crime scene investigators for her child as a way to share life’s thoughts and lessons.

You can also discuss that crime scene investigators study these kinds of accidents to figure out how to keep them from happening again. Ask, “What might you do to keep this accident from happening again?” Possible answers: Provide some kind of warning that this is a dangerous intersection. Remind skiers to wear helmets. Remind skiers that while the sensation of speed can be exhilarating it also makes an activity, including riding a bike and a car, more dangerous.

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