The Body Farm
Now, vultures are part of the Texas landscape, to be sure, and if a found body had lain out in the open for a few days, one would expect the vultures to have arrived. It follows that research conducted in Texas would take that fact into account, consistent with the notion that time-since-death (TSD) estimates are specific to factors in a given area. But for those projects not involving the vulture factor, the facility had also drawn up plans for vulture-proof cages. They weren't thinking about those that would be circling that facility, anyway, drawn by the odor, but others unrelated to the university had seen what lay ahead.
It seems that local residents aren't keen about having flocks of carrion birds overhead, day in and day out, nor are the operators of the small San Marcos Municipal Airport. The vultures could interfere with the small planes coming in and out, they say, and thus pose a risk to pilots.
So it was back to the drawing board for FACTS as the AP reported that the university is now searching for a different location. "While the increased risk might be very small," said Texas State provost Perry Moore, "it cannot be completely eliminated, and we cannot go forward with the Highway 21 site." To their credit they're not giving up, but the location of the alternate site has not yet been announced.
In India, Roma Khan has been involved in plans for such a facility there, but this far, it's still in the talking stages. The hope among forensic anthropologists is that more areas in the U.S. and around the world will build similar facilities for more precise, climate-specific TSD estimates.
In addition to actual body farms, Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson have published a second novel, Flesh and Bone, in their fictional series about investigations involving the Knoxville-based Body Farm. Another one is in the works.