Special Report - A Second Look
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - What if you could roll back time and step into a crime scene from ten years ago?
It's already happening in West Michigan.
Newschannel 3 got a front row seat to astonishing 3D imagery that's helping Michigan State Police solve cold case crimes.
Imagine being able to take a witness back to the crime scene years later and see what they did from their vantage point.
Or how about riding in a suspect's vehicle at night to try and discover if they were telling the truth?
Michigan State Police are calling this new forensic tool priceless and its saving them years of investigative work.
They say the Jodi Parrack murder case is a prime example.
"The truth is always there. The question is, can you uncover it?
The night of November 8th, 2007, 11-year-old Jodi Parrack disappeared. Dozens were frantically searching for the little girl and some ended up driving through Constantine Cemetery.
"Were they suspects or were they witnesses?" said Det. Sgt. Shane Criger with Michigan State Police.
Detective Sergeant Shane Criger was one of the investigators dedicated to finding out.
It was this tombstone where police say Parrack's mother discovered her body, and this silver bike was lying on the ground nearby.
"It was very hard for us to understand how they can drive so close to the body without seeing the body or the bike," said MSP Det. Sgt. Criger.
For several years, state police went back to the cemetery on the anniversary of Parrack's murder to try and replicate the crime scene.
But it wasn't until 2012 Duane Redding was called in to help.
"We can put ourselves quite literally anywhere inside the cemetery," said Redding.
Redding is the creator of Visual Litigation, his company 3CON is pioneering the use of 3D laser scanning.
He was able to accomplish in two weeks what state police tried doing for three years the old-fashioned way.
"What the data is, is what the data is. It can't be flavored, it can't be manipulated. If you want to go to the truth, in my opinion, this is one of the best tools forensically since DNA," said Redding.
This is what it looks like. Its name is Faro 330.
"Basically, a laser goes out and does measurements up to a million points a second and creates a 3D reference of the environment," said Redding.
Redding took Faro to Constantine Cemetery and after 18 scans in different locations, the laser virtually painted the environment into one model.
"With this technology we can actually extrapolate three dimensional information from it," said Redding.
The information was then added to satellite photos and meteorological data from the night Parrack was murdered.
"So we knew what the dew point was, haze, fog, we knew how much of the moon was out that night," said Redding.
Redding calls it a giant jigsaw puzzle in the form of a mathematical equation. State police call it invaluable.
"The biggest thing this is going to do for us, is allow us to go back to the crime scene at the day and time it happened, at any time, forever," said MSP Det. Sgt. Criger.
At one time detectives were looking at nearly a dozen possible suspects. Each drove a different kind of vehicle and each had a different story to tell.
So Redding programmed the make and model of the vehicle's headlights into his crime map.
"We can then determine what was the lumina factor of the lights, the typical distance, the angling," said Redding.
Detective Criger says the information drastically whittled down the suspect list and saved massive amounts of time.
"Kind of get a different perspective now that it's all done and over with, don't ya?" asked Redding.
This week, we were there as Redding went back to Constantine Cemetery for the first time since helping state police years ago.
"In one night you live every nightmare a parent can possibly have," said Redding.
With Parrack's killer now in prison, he tells us as a father he was overcome by emotion realizing his 3D technology played a part in finding Jodi justice.
"It doesn't change what has happened, but it can help close that chapter, that book, seems like it's worth it," said Redding.
The 3D scans are now being used by defense attorneys in court.
Redding says there's a case right now in Cleveland, Ohio where scan data may exonerate a suspect.