Explore the Nutshell Studies

T he Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death were used exclusively as training tools for law enforcement agents seeking education on the proper identification and collection of evidence in violent crimes.

Students of the Harvard Associates in Police Science (HAPS) seminars were given ninety minutes, a sheet of initial witness statements, a flashlight, and a magnifying glass. They were then asked to present their analysis of the case, including whether the witness statements were true, any medical evidence to gather, and whether the case was a probable homicide, suicide or accident.

“The information supplied concerning each model is that which the officer would normally have when sent to investigate, together with the first statements obtained from one or more of the most immediate accessible witnesses. It must not be overlooked that these statements may be true, mistaken, or intentionally false, or a combination of any two or all three of these. The observer must therefore view each case with an entirely open mid. The Nutshell Studies are not presented as crimes to be solved—they are, rather, designed as exercises in observing and evaluating indirect evidence, especially that which may have medical importance.”

Below are links to four of Mrs. Lee’s original Nutshells. Read the witness statements, evaluate the scene, and see what you can find in each case. As these models are still used for training, the clues presented are all mine and do not reflect official solutions.

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Scroll over the image and click to view each Nutshell.


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