What you need to know when searching for a grave (Part 2)

By: Jocelyne Terilli

As we covered in Part 1, discovering a clandestine grave takes a well-thought out strategy with input from local officers and cadaver dog teams and the help of local citizens or police cadets to conduct the search. Your efforts and resources will pay off when you find the grave. But once you find it, what do you do next?

Bryan Brendly, a Professor in the Biology Department and Forensic Institute at Guilford College and expert from our recent webinar, “Discovering & Documenting Clandestine Graves”, states “You shouldn’t automatically start digging. Again, as when looking for a clandestine grave, you need to take your time when you discover it. You want to ensure you will ‘vertically control the scene’ and be in the position to gather as much evidence as possible”.

To properly document and preserve evidence at the scene, you should have the following tools ready, before you start digging. These tools are:

  • A T-probe for finding possible points of interest in your area
  • A Grid Marking Kit to mark off the area and conduct a space by space examination. It’ll help you conduct a thorough and comprehensive examination.


Grid Marking Kit


  • Help preserve evidence and the scene with a Scene Guard Scene Cover Tent. It’s essential to preserve evidence from the elements.

Scene Guard Tent

  • Photography is extremely important in documenting a scene: photographs can tell a story better with objectivity. They freeze time and leave a permanent record of the scene. Photos should be taken of the overall scene and also of evidence, with and without a scale. Make this job easier for you with a Rugged Photography Kit and have everything you need in one place with a waterproof and shockproof camera.

Rugged Photography Kit


  • Don’t miss evidence with the proper scene lighting. Portable scene lighting that is quick to set up is ideal, like a Paladin Light HERO Kit. (on sale now!)

Paladin light


  • Use evidence bags preprinted with required information and chain of custody forms to keep the integrity of your investigation. Contact us today for our June Lunch-n-Learn “Which evidence bag for which evidence?” to know the differences in evidence bag materials.

Evidence packaging

This is just the tip of the iceberg about discovering clandestine graves. Email your dedicated Sirchie Sales Representative for access to our webinar, “Discovering & Documenting Clandestine Graves” to learn more.

Please contact us for access to other webinars. We’ve covered “Crime Scene Photography,” “Best Practices when Field Testing for Narcotics”, “Using Oblique Lighting” and more! Email us at or call us 800.356.7311 and we’ll send them to you!

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