Skip to main content

WCU Stories

WCU to offer cold case homicide investigation summer course in collaboration with NCSBI

By Brooklyn Brown



This summer, Western Carolina University will offer a cold case homicide investigation class to students in the distance learning criminal justice program in collaboration with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation’s Cold Case Investigation Team. Students will investigate a complete cold case, including evidence and interviews, and present their findings to CCIT at the end of the course.

Jamie Vaske, a criminology and criminal justice professor, is an overseer in the process of implementing the course. “It’s gonna be delivered to our online distance learning students in criminal justice,” Vaske said, “We decided to start there because our distance learning program serves practitioners, so a lot of those individuals are already sworn law enforcement officers who understand evidentiary rules and confidentiality.”

Though the class will begin in an online format, a residential course is a possibility for the future. “The long-term goal is to deliver on campus,” Vaske said. “This opportunity will increase our connection to the SBI for potential employment for our students. The residential course could also bolster that connection for internships.”

Special agent Chris Campbell from the SBI will be the instructor for the summer course. WCU joins four schools who have already collaborated with the CCIT on a course since 2020, including East Carolina University, Campbell University, St. Augustine University and NC State University. Each school has offered the course through different departments, from biology to criminology, allowing for a range of perspectives in case review.

Vaske believes the case will be an active one on the western side of the state, to be determined by Campbell and assistant special agent in charge Nate Thompson. The course will possibly include an SBI file and local file for the case.

Vaske also gives credit to Lisa Briggs, professor and director of WCU’s emergency and disaster management, for paving the way to a collaboration with the SBI. “Lisa Briggs has been working with the SBI for a long time. She really laid the groundwork to open them up to working with us.”

Office of Web Services