Porter County Patrolman
recently shadowed Chicago officers to
learn crime scene
(Ed Collier / The Times)
BY Ken Kosky Times Staff
VALPARAISO -- The streets of Chicago proved to be the perfect
place for Porter County's police officers to learn the finer points of
processing crime scenes.
Porter County patrolmen Keary Hundt and Andy Hrivnak got to see shooting
scenes, a bomb scene and more during the two weeks they spent with Chicago's
Area 2 Homicide Unit. Porter County's officers shadowed Chicago's crime scene technicians to
sharpen their skills in handling crime scenes in Porter County. Hundt said the
hands-on experience was extremely valuable. "Crime scenes are an everyday occurrence for them," Hundt said. "We just shadowed them... There was a lot of experience to draw from." When Hundt returned to Porter County, he quickly put his training into
action. On Wednesday, he was called out in the middle of the night to gather
evidence at the scene of a rape in Elmwood Mobile Home Park. He made plaster casts of footprints seen outside the victim's bedroom window
and of similar impressions seen at the suspect's nearby home. He also secured
the victim's bedding as evidence. Somsauk Hernthaisong, 30, was arrested
Thursday on charges of rape, burglary and criminal deviate conduct. Hundt said perhaps the most important thing he was reminded of during his
time in Chicago was crime scene preservation -- making sure no unauthorized
people enter the crime scene and contaminate it. After Hundt and Hrivnak returned from Chicago, Porter County officer Rollie
Sanders and Chesterton Det. Sgt. Dave Adkins went to Chicago for the same
experience. Hundt, Hrivnak and Sanders have formed the Sheriff's Department Crime Scene
Unit. In addition to their experience in Chicago, all three have received other
advanced training so they can be called out to process scenes involving
burglaries, rapes and other serious crimes. Hundt decided to become an evidence technician because it's an "intriguing"
specialty extremely important in solving crimes. "From being a police officer for four years ... you see how the crime scene
will either make or break a case," he said.
"I like being a part of that and knowing I made a difference."
Hundt said evidence as simple as a single clothing fiber, a blood drop or a
shoe print could help solve a crime if it's processed properly. Hundt said he was involved recently in a check forgery case in which he was
able to lift a fingerprint off a check that matched the suspect's fingerprints. "There's always something to be found. It's just a matter of finding it.
That's what most people don't realize. People leave behind something anywhere
they go. That's what this (crime scene processing) is based on."
Hundt said every officer can dust for fingerprints, and that may be
sufficient in many crimes. But he said the tools he uses and the techniques he
learned "supersede and go beyond that." One of the advanced techniques Hundt learned is to use glue vapors to get
invisible fingerprints. He can also spray a substance at a crime scene that,
when exposed to ultraviolet light, will alert him to blood, semen and saliva. He
also learned to use plaster to preserve shoe prints and tire track impressions
left behind by criminals. The Sheriff's Department turned a military surplus vehicle into a crime scene
van, so the county's evidence technicians also have their own vehicle.
Sheriff Dave Reynolds said the citizens of Porter County deserve to have the
most advanced crime scene processing whenever there is a serious crime. He said
Porter County has become one of the few counties in Indiana to focus on such
"I'm pleased with how far we've progressed and how quickly we've progressed,"
Reynolds has arranged for FBI evidence experts to put on seminars for local
law enforcement. And he also is planning to have his officers spend time with
Lake County's mobile crime lab. He also wants at least two of his officers to
take the intensive monthlong evidence technician school offered by the state
police. "There's absolutely no question of the importance of the whole program with
crime scene technicians," Reynolds said.
"When you're dealing with a crime, if you don't end up with a confession or
eyewitness, you have to rely on the crime scene."
When Reynolds was with the Portage police, hairs and shirt fibers found on
the body of Sarah Paulsen, a young girl who was murdered, were linked to local
fast food worker Eugene Britt. He was convicted of the murder, and his arrest
led to the solving of other rapes and murders in Lake County.