Staff Writer

A $50,000 donation given by popular forensic science novelist Patricia Cornwell last fall allowed UT's National Forensics Academy to award the first Patricia Cornwell Scholarship in May 2003.
"It's the biggest and only donation (the NFA has ever received)," said Jarrett Hallcox, NFA project manager. "It's going to allow us to branch out to areas that wouldn't otherwise be targeted."
The academy is a 10-week intensive training program that trains law enforcement agencies in evidence identification, collection, and preservation. It prepares crime scene investigators to recognize key elements and to improve the process of evidence recovery and submission.
Cornwell became interested in the NFA through her friendship with William Bass, a mentor who has helped her research her novels. Bass founded the NFA, otherwise known as the "body farm," more than 30 years ago.
"About six months ago, Bass was coming over to teach one day when Cornwell, coincidentally, was here to research her new book about Jack the Ripper," said Mike Sullivan, director of the Law Enforcement Innovation Center at UT. "At the end of the presentation, she was really excited about our training program because it's the only one of its kind in the nation."
The university and Cornwell's staff organized a book signing for her latest thriller, "Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper-Case Closed" at the Knoxville Convention Center last fall. Admission was $50 a person, which is unusual because book signings are usually free, said Sullivan.
"She announced that the proceeds from the admission and the royalties of the 100 books she sold there would be donated to the Law Enforcement Innovation Center," Sullivan said. "And she doubled the amount and gave $50,000 to us, and we established the Patricia Cornwell Scholarship."
The NFA was surprised by her generosity.
"I've been flabbergasted with her (Cornwell's) willingness to contribute ... and how down-to-earth she is," Hallcox said.
The first recipient of the scholarship graduated from the academy on July 11, 2003. Cpl. Cheryl A. Stanley, a 20-year veteran of the Gary (Indiana) Police Department, supervises the Crime Scene Investigations Unit in Gary.
The NFA runs three 10-week programs a year, with only 16 slots available per session. Trainees usually spend about 170 hours on in-class work and 220 hours on field practicum every session. Investigative crime scenarios studied include arson, vehicle explosions, corpse exhumation and homicide investigations.
Tuition and lodging, excluding food, cost $6,500. Many smaller police departments are unable to participate because of a lack of funding, Sullivan explained.
The NFA is a program within the LEIC, an agency of UT's Institute for Public Health. The academy is held at the Knoxville Police Department Training Academy and is open to all law enforcement agencies in the United States.