MSU professor takes bugs to national television

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For those who are fans of the Oxygen Network, an MSU professor is the channel’s newest star.

Dr. Eric Benbow, a forensic entomologist at Michigan State University, was called upon to work on the Oxygen series “Smiley Face Killers: The Hunt for Justice.”

The episode centers around Todd Geib, a 22-year-old who was found in a lake north of Grand Rapids.

The autopsy concluded it was death by drowning, but bugs found on the body said otherwise. That’s where Dr. Benbow comes in.

44 Blue Productions reached out to the professor to perform a test to see if the bugs found on the body would prove it was in the lake for 21 days as was believed.

“The absence of aquatic insects or terrestrial insects made it unusual,” he said.

Dr. Benbow and some of his students placed pig carcasses in a lake and watched the process.

“Monitored the rate of colonization by insects,” Dr. Benbow said.

His findings determined the body was unlikely in the water for as long as the autopsy said it was.

“It was a little unusual,” he said.

The story was unusual… and so was his lab turning into a set.

“They had a fixed camera and then someone who had a harness on and would walk around and get different points of view,” he said.

And through the stress of the project, Dr. Benbow said he would do it again.

“I enjoyed the process. I enjoyed interacting with them. I enjoyed running the experiment for future use and exposure for how science can help forensics and death investigations,” he said.

Dr. Benbow gave his findings to the Muskegon Country Prosecutor to see if they would reopen the case as a homicide.

The episode aired as the series finale in February.

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