Mesa State revising body farm idea
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – A corpse research plan in Grand Junction is being rewritten after neighbors complained.
A professor at Mesa State College had proposed the college develop the nation’s first high-altitude “body farm” on a plot of land within several hundred feet of some homes. A body farm is a forensic research site where people who have donated their corpses are left to rot. Forensics researchers then study decomposition of the bodies to assist in police investigations.
Neighbors complained, and Mesa State President Tim Foster told The (Grand Junction) Daily Sentinel on Thursday that the body farm won’t go there.
The college has mailed letters to 319 surrounding property owners informing them of its change of heart.
Mesa State officials say they will look for a more remote site for the body farm. It would be the nation’s fifth such forensic site but the first at high altitude.
Neighbors are delighted the college has changed its mind. They say they were prepared to sue to stop the corpse research so close to their houses.
“It’ll be nice not to have to worry about where the flies have been when they land on my hamburger or potato salad at a barbecue,” said Lisa Binse, who lives across the street from the original proposed site.
Foster told the newspaper that Mesa State erred by not reaching out to neighbors ahead of time about the planned forensic site. He said the college decided not to fight residents.
“At the end of the day, it wasn’t worth the battle,” he said.
John Ray, who lives near the original proposed body farm site, said the college was evasive about plans for the research site. Ray organized a neighborhood group that grew to nearly 40 members and passed out fliers to 400 residents.
“All of us really felt they were trying to sneak this by,” Ray said.
Foster said the college didn’t advertise the planned forensic site to avoid vandalism, but he acknowledged that the neighbors’ concerns were valid.
“Their points were hard to argue with, one of which was, ‘Would you want to live next to this?’ And I said, ‘No,'” Foster said.