‘CSI’ expert speaks to the living

Sandra Sepaniak

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As it is with many things in life, working in forensic science isn’t quite as glamorous as television will lead its viewers to believe. However, sometimes the job does have its perks, as it does in Dr. Gary Telgenhoff’s case. Telgenhoff, normally a forensic specialist at the coroner’s office in Las Vegas, is also a consultant for the television shows “CSI” and “Bones.”

In his talk held on Monday evening in the Union’s Grand Ballroom, he discussed his work both on and off of the show and how he participated in a typical episode of “CSI.” According to him, the creator of CSI came through his workplace, and he just happened to be in the right place at the right time. From there, he became one of their major experts in forensic sciences.

He was particularly good-humored when discussing his line of work, and he even claimed to be called “The Stand-Up Coroner” from time to time. He highlighted several of his most interesting cases, much to the intrigue of the audience, and discussed what some of these cases entailed.

Telgenhoff has had many exciting moments working with these shows. “Meeting the celebrities is always a thrill,” he said about his greatest experience working on “CSI.” “You feel like people respect you enough to call you and ask for your advice, and that’s fulfilling.”

However, he also described his regular job in Las Vegas as a typical nine-to-five, with a few twists here and there.

“We decide what cases we’re going to present, which ones we’re going to autopsy and which ones we’re going to do an external exam on,” he casually said of his morning office meetings.

Telgenhoff noted that cases involving celebrities or other high-profile situations were usually presented first.

“Most of the morning is consumed by autopsies and examinations,” Telgenhoff said.

Court appearances are also a typical part of his day, along with numerous phone calls from the families of the victims and from the police.

Autopsies, he said, can take several weeks to complete. “Sometimes the families can get intense … sometimes they can’t handle that; they don’t care what the facts are.”

One of the main things that Telgenhoff wanted to tell his audience is, “It’s not like TV; it’s not as glamorous as it seems.”

Alhough the show may have excellent writing and a gripping storyline, the truth is often stretched a bit far.

“It’s a great show … but if I concentrate on the forensics, I’ll go nuts,” he admitted. “But that’s okay, it’s Hollywood, not an instructional manual.”

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