Well then. They sure as shit aren’t growing carrots. What you are about to see is something you may have only seen in horror movies. Yes ladies and gentlemen; This is the real thing. You can’t make this stuff up. Well, technically I could but yes my friends, this is a very real place. Seven miles northwest of San Marcos, Texas, 50 or so naked human bodies in varying stages of decomposition are strewn about in a 16-acre field. Some of them are fully mummified corpses crawling with maggots: And this is all in the name of Science.
The Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State University is studying the stages of human decomposition. This place, The Freeman Ranch, is the largest operating body farm in the US. Umm. Yes there are others. Four more in the United States. The bodies are donated and left out in the elements as part of research aimed at better understanding the process of decomposition, mainly to assist in criminal investigations. Five or six times per month, a newly deceased human body arrives. At a Texas hospital, funeral home, or medical examiners’ office, it’s strapped to a gurney, loaded into a cargo van, and brought to the ranch. They take measurements, photographs, hair, and blood samples. An ID number is assigned, replacing the person’s name. Whenever possible, they place the body outside for decomposition immediately, but when enough staff aren’t on hand (it takes a few to place the body outside), it’s kept in a stainless steel walk-in refrigerator for a day or two.
The gruesome studies conducted here will have a direct impact on law enforcement and forensic investigations throughout the state of Texas, and beyond. Viewing the combined effects of the elements, insect life and natural rotting is vital for scientists to help identify remains, whether from exposure, crime or natural causes. Bodies being caged and others left out in the field all present different effects on the decay process. This process has and continues to help local law enforcement and forensics when dealing with bodies that have died under mysterious circumstances and or determining time of death among bodies uncovered months post mortem.
Check out this video below from VOX that gives you a little tour and an inside look of the Freeman Ranch.
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