Cold Case Class Prepares Students for Future

-Sponsored- Experiential learning – learning while doing – is a cornerstone of a Columbia College education, something extremely important when students go into criminal justice or forensic science. To make sure students are prepared, Columbia College offers a Cold Case Homicide class.

Led by Mike Himmel, long-time adjunct professor of forensic science and retired Columbia, Mo., police detective, students work closely with law enforcement agencies, functioning as a major case squad. Over the course of the semester, students look for details that might have slipped through the cracks, as well as applying new technologies to the case. The college recently announced that the college’s Cold Case Homicide class will have an opportunity to help solve the 1992 shooting death of an Eldon, Mo., man.

“When students come here, they use the same equipment and techniques used by law enforcement agencies,” said Himmel. “We’ve had officers say that these students can do more in 16 weeks than detectives can do in two years.”

In 2009, Himmel’s Cold Case Homicide class was asked by local law enforcement to look at the 1989 murder of Carolyn Williams, a Columbia, Mo., resident. The class ultimately provided authorities with two persons of interest, and Himmel said the DNA work-up is still pending. Himmel’s class also helped discover the remains of Mary Nobles, who had been missing for more than 20 years. The discovery helped authorities catch her killer, John David Brown.

Columbia College’s students learn from some of the leading minds in criminal justice and forensic science, as national publications such as USA Today look to our professor’s for their expertise. Columbia College students also received an upgraded facility this year, with the opening of the Brouder Science Center. The 53,000-square foot, state-of-the-art building allows students to hone their forensic skills in the crime simulation lab, such as re-creating blood spatter patterns and determining bullet trajectory. The space includes lasers, multiple alternate light sources, microscopes (including those with a built-in digital camera) and photographic lab tables like those used in laboratory facilities around the country provide the highest quality of hands-on experiences.

Columbia College was established in 1851 and offers associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice, as well as a bachelor’s degree in forensic science. New in 2014, the college also will offer an online certificate in crime scene investigation.

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