Urban Investigations

Bronx Cemetery

FINDAR  Proves It Can Locate Buried Bodies in 25 Minutes

On a cold morning back in October of 2013, Sensors & Software Inc. technical sales representatives met with key law enforcement members from the Bronx, one of the toughest sections of New York. Their goal was to prove that FINDAR, a ground penetrating radar (GPR) system, was able to meet the very specific expectations of these hightly focused investigators. More than a demonstration, this was a test to see if FINDAR could live up to one of the highest policing standards on the eastern seaboard.

FINDAR 20 ft x 20 ft surveying grid marked in the cemetery. 

Devised by law enforcement for law enforcement, Sensors & Software’s FINDAR is a cutting edge GPR unit designed, built, and manufactured in North America. Forensic applications for GPR technology were attempted over the years; however technical complexities prevented law enforcement from using this tool to their full advantage. Now, with FINDAR, the technical barriers are removed. Investigators have a tool that locates evidence. Whether it is metallic, plastic, concrete, or human remains, FINDAR can find it.

The test began on a frosty day, with light snow covering the ground. Cruisers were loaded with the necessary equipment and the small procession of black vehicles headed off down the street. A cemetery close to the Bronx was the destination since it was a confirmed location where burials would be located. When they arrived, the Lieutenant in charge pointed to an area with not one but two graves. The seasoned investigators, there to observe, were openly skeptical, doubting that the FINDAR GPR system was up to the task and could differentiate between two bodies placed in such close proximity.

FINDAR depth slice showing the adult body.

 A closer inspection of the site revealed that one of the bodies was of an infant, historically a much more difficult target to locate. The two  tombstones were also standing in the middle of the search area blocking access to land where valuable data could be collected.

With the area of interest defined the test began. One of the more skeptical observers started a stop watch and sat back. He wanted to see how long it would take for the system to respond and the value of the data acquired while they were working in sub-zero temperatures. 

FINDAR displays depth slices on site.

Within five minutes of the FINDAR being removed from the vehicles it was smoothly guiding over the light snow. The automatic circumnavigation features allowed for quick data acquisition around the tombstones.  Within 25 minutes the 20ft X 20ft area was covered and it was time to learn if the FINDAR lived up to its name and located the  required evidence.

FINDAR depth slice showing the child body.

Another minute passed and the local law enforcement observers saw the outlines of the two burials on the FINDAR screen. In spite of the tombstones being placed in an inconvenient position and the small size of the infant body, FINDAR passed the Bronx evaluation with flying colors.

FINDAR cross-section showing the two bodies.

FINDAR is equally effective at clearing a suspect area that has been under suspicion for years. A further benefit to using the system is that if an area is searched and nothing found investigators can move onto other areas with confidence, knowing that due  diligence has taken place in ruling out an area of concern.

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