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Room to grieve

By Emily Rhyne /  Los Angeles Times

Going behind the yellow tape at a crime scene is raw.  The smell hangs in your clothes and what you see isn’t something you just sleep off.

When I walked into this particular home, I was taken aback by the grizzly scene. It was hard to see past the blood and the gore; I couldn’t detach. At times, I just wandered through the home, searching for remnants that illuminated who this woman was.

Over the first several weeks of my internship at the Los Angeles Times, I covered World Cup soccer culture, the opening day at Del Mar racetrack, and the Kings’ road to winning the Stanley Cup.  I even accompanied a staff photographer for a portrait shoot with Tom Petty.

But this story was different.

I had been assigned to profile Ben Mihm, a retired homicide detective who founded a crime scene cleanup company. During our interview, he described in detail the kind of scenes he cleans on a daily basis — traffic accidents, homicides, suicides, decompositions.  Little did I know that an hour later, I’d be walking into one of these scenes with him and his crew.

Simple things such as a poem, “Angels,” rested on top of a neatly organized desk. A handwritten note, “Straight thinking, eat out, go buy fast food,” taped to the mirror, reminded me that this was a home, not just a crime scene.

Mihm’s words resonated with me: “Cleaning up blood is just the beginning aspect of it. … Once it’s gone, then they can mourn.”

1 Comment

  1. October 1, 2014, 9:18 pm

    nicely done, informative, touching, tasteful, artistic

    By: Jim Wells

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