Bill Bass profile

A local Knoxville paper did a story last month on anthropologist Bill Bass. Bass is probably best-known for his efforts to establish the “Facility,” otherwise known as the “Body Farm”. In recent years, he has been involved in writing a series of best-selling crime novels. So now, he’s a celebrity anthropologist:

At the University of Kansas, I had a doctoral student, Bob Gilbert, who was wondering if females age the same as men, Bass says. Well, nobody knows. Cadaver populations are notorious for having people in the older ranges. You get old and crotchety and drive your friends away, when you die, your body ends up in the anatomy department. A young person dies, the family buries them. We had very little data dealing with younger individuals, excepting the skeletal remains of American prisoners who had died in North Korean prison camps. How do you get these things? I had been working with a number of pathologists in the country on various little things and I started asking if, when they did an autopsy on a young female, would they save the pubic synthesis [sic, should be "symphysis"] for Bob Gilbert? One who did, fortunately, was Jerry Francisco in Tennessee. When UT decides they want to hire me, Jerry asked if I would be the forensic pathologist for the Tennessee State Medical Examiners System.
He notified the 95 Tennessee county medical examiners that they had me on staff, and the bodies started coming in. The first 10 I got had maggots. I didnt know about maggots. Kansas had twice the amount of land as Tennessee, and half the people, so the chances people smelling a body and finding it while it still had maggots was pretty small back there. I looked in the literature for more about maggots, and there wasnt much. So I went to the UT dean and said, I need some land to put dead bodies on. He picks up the phone and I started with a former sow barn on the ag campus.

It’s a very nice profile, good for forwarding to people interested in forensic anthropology.