A Brief History of Crime Scene Cleanup

When we hear about crime scene cleanup, most people think of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, even though classic crime scene shows began long before CSI. CSI and modern technology brought more attention to the growing field of forensics and thus became responsible for the explosion of training programs nationwide.

The reality of violent crime scenes is that someone, usually a family member, is left with a disturbing visual reminder of the trauma. Facing a room covered in blood and a future forever changed, they often don’t know what to do next.

In the past, the family had to clean up themselves, often being exposed to dangerous contamination. Crime scene cleanup began initially with local or regional small businesses picking up the task.

Can you imagine living in the 20th century and being expected to clean these historic death scenes?

Historic Notable Crime Scenes and Death Scenes

  • JFK Assassination – The car carrying President John F. Kennedy and his wife on the day of the assassination was cleaned and returned to service. Since it was never damaged, just spattered with blood, the 1961 Lincoln Continental four-door convertible continued carrying presidents. Retired in 1977, it is now on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
  • Ted Bundy – This notorious serial killer knew how to leave minimal physical evidence behind at the scenes of his crimes. He carried out many of the assaults in his 1968 VW Beetle which was eventually seized, and he was finally caught after leaving bite marks on a victim that were matched to him.
  • “The most beautiful suicide” – On May 1, 1947, 23-year-old Evelyn McHale jumped from the Empire State Building’s observation deck. Plummeting 86 floors, she crushed the hood of a parked United Nations Assembly Cadillac. Despite the fall, she looked peacefully asleep and was captured in a photograph within minutes after her death.
  • Park Central Hotel (formerly Park Sheraton Hotel) – 870 7th Ave, New York City, Site of two murders in the 20th century: In 1928, Jewish mobster Arnold Rothstein was shot in the stomach as he walked into room 349. He stumbled outside, and although he got a look at his killer he never revealed a name to the police and died two days later. In October 1957, Albert Anastasia (head of the Murder, Inc. gang and founder of the Gambino crime family) was shot while getting a shave in the hotel barbershop. Today the barbershop has been converted into a Starbucks.
  • The Collyer Brothers – 2807 5th Ave., Harlem, NY. Throughout the early 20th century, the Collyer Brothers had a reputation for being an eccentric pair. The two brothers were hardly seen, especially after Homer Collyer went completely blind and dependent on his younger brother Langley for care. Spurred by a changing neighborhood plagued by crime, Langley’s paranoid tendencies spiraled out of control, ultimately leading to both brother’s death. Because of the intricate maze of booby trapped junk within his home, Langley’s body wasn’t found until weeks after it had already been partially eaten by rats and began to rot.

Today, there are strict standards set by OSHA to deal with effective and proper cleanup. To find out more about crime scene cleanup services visit our website.

Crime Scene Cleanup in the Movies

The profession shows up sporadically in popular culture and media, including these movies:

  • Curdled (1996),  starring Angela Jones as a Colombian immigrant who takes a crime scene cleanup job and discovers evidence in a case involving a local serial killer.
  • Sunshine Cleaning (2008)starring Amy Adams and Emily Blunt. Two sisters start a biohazard removal/crime scene cleanup company without understanding best practices. With a little education and experience they turn the corner and start having more success.
  • Cleaner (2007)a thriller starring Samuel L. Jackson, Ed Harris, and Eva Mendes. Former cop Tom Cutler operates a crime scene cleanup company, and is shocked to learn he may have unknowingly erased crucial evidence, becoming entangled in a dirty criminal cover-up.
  • Lost Girls (2020), starring Amy Ryan and Thomasin McKenzie. The true story of the Long Island Serial Killer, and the crime scene investigation and eventual cleanup effort.


What is Remediation?

In most cases, someone will continue living there so the space must be restored to its pre-incident state. This is known in the industry as remediation. Not only must all visible contamination be removed, but microscopic and airborne dangers as well.

This is where professional cleaning companies step in to help.

Top Crime Scene Cleanup Companies 

  • National Crime Scene Cleanup 
  • Aftermath 
  • Servpro
  • Crime Scene Steri-Clean 


A New Era of Advertising: Search Engines and Digital Marketing

As traditional classified ads have faded like the newspaper industry, new online advertising strategies help businesses reach potential customers. Crime scene cleanup companies  have harnessed digital marketing, using their blog to communicate with the public and their customers. And National Crime Scene Cleanup continues to expand our presence through Facebook and Twitter, in addition to our website.

Help When You Need It: How to Find 24/7

  • Call: 1-844-255-2461 any time, day or night. Your call will be handled professionally and discreetly. With live operators standing by 24 hours a day, we are always available.

Sadly, tragedies will never be eliminated. But the crime scene cleanup industry will always be there to help people facing the unspeakable.  We are specialized in providing experienced, specialized and caring trauma recovery services for people in difficult situations. And we will strive to continue providing high quality work, adhering to all industry best practices and guidelines, to ensure that we “get it right” from the outset.