Former CSI Agent teaches JCU students about criminal investigations


Winterch quoted Sherlock Holmes a few times during his presentation. One of the quotes stated, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” (Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash)

Rachel Scully, Campus Editor

Former CSI Agent and current John Carroll Prof. Dan Winterch, J.D. taught students about investigating crime scenes and criminal contamination at a virtual event on Nov. 12 hosted by Ohio Innocence Project u and Freedom Society. 

The interactive event showed authentic crime scene photos and asked the audience to determine a conviction. In other words, was the subject innocent or guilty? Through the development of two real cases, students learned hands-on about wrongful convictions as Winterch guided them along the way.

Shannon Callaghan, president of OIPu, told The Carroll News that she and other executive board members struggled to come up with engaging ways to introduce the topic of wrongful convictions to the general student body. 

“The exec board felt that adding an interactive component to crime scene investigations (something most students are already familiar with from shows like Mindhunter, Law and Order, and Criminal Minds) would be a great way to engage the community in learning about wrongful convictions,” Callaghan said. “Myself and another member of the current [executive] board had taken Dan Winterch’s Intro to CSI class. … We had toyed around with the idea of doing an event similar to Prof. Winterich’s final exam —a giant crime scene reconstruction— and we had plans to hold it last spring.”

Winterch has over 21 years of experience in law enforcement as well as a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from JCU and a Juris Doctorate from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.

He provided crucial advice for any student involved with criminal law, forensics or psychology during the event: be objective and let the evidence guide you.

While the event was heavily attended by students in the criminology department, all students who were interested were welcome. Callaghan said that students did not need to be a criminology major to join OIPu. “Our members represent Accounting to Biology to Classics, which speaks to the interdisciplinary nature of wrongful convictions,” she said. “And, since every citizen is eligible to sit on a jury, we feel it’s important that everyone be informed of what can — and does —go wrong in the legal system.”

Callaghan said she was grateful for the over 20 people who attended the event. She said she is hopeful that it will drive more people to check out OIPu. 

“Your support means the world to us, and we’re grateful to have such an important dialogue about this topic with you,” she said. “To folks who are looking to get more involved, consider applying for a position on our executive board! We’re always looking for new ideas, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us as well. To folks who are interested but don’t really know where to start, hello! We’re happy to have you on board.”