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Life For Wake County CSIs Not As Glamorous As TV Counterparts

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WAKE COUNTY, N.C. — At a crime scene, they see what others miss and concentrate on the details. Real-life crime scene investigators do not get the attention their counterparts on television do. Instead, their work is behind the scenes.

When a big crime happens in Wake County, the scene is crawling with cops. There is one person whose work could make or break the case -- a crime scene investigator.

"We could singlehandedly solve a crime based on a single piece of evidence," agent Jeffrey Taylor, who works for the

City/County Bureau of Identification

known as CCBI.

Seventeen CCBI agents handle crime scene investigations for law enforcement agencies in Wake County. They are assigned about 9,000 cases a year. The agents collect and process physical evidence, like fingerprints and DNA, in crimes ranging from break-ins to murders.

Taylor said his work is a lot different than television dramas would have you believe. Much of what he does is old school rather than new technology.

"I've got a saying I tell victims. That's Hollywood and this is Raleighwood. There's a big difference," he said. "I believe it does give victims false hope because sometimes they think we can do things that we can't."

For example, Taylor cannot solve every crime like they do on TV, such as the rape and murder of 23-year-old

Stephanie Bennett

in her Raleigh apartment in May 2002.

"I would classify that as my biggest case," he said.

Taylor worked the Bennett case around-the-clock for four days and then exclusively for eight weeks. It is the only unsolved murder case on his desk.

"I still think about Stephanie Bennett quite a bit. What I could have done or what I may have missed is continually going through my mind," he said.

Taylor said he has to avoid becoming emotional so he can focus on what the evidence tells him.

"I'm very interested in the stages of the decomposition of a body. That can tell you a whole lot about what happened to that person," he said.

Despite the sometimes gruesome nature of his job, Taylor said it is a calling he cannot ignore.

"I think I'm here to stay," he said.

There are more than 30 law enforcement agencies in Wake County that use CCBI to process their crime scenes. It is the only agency of its kind in the state -- one that focuses solely on gathering physical evidence.


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