Virginia State Police explain scanning equipment used in Lovell investigation

By Rob Manch - Reporter

ROANOKE CO. (WSLS 10) - We're getting a look at equipment state police used during the investigation into the death of Nicole Lovell.

An updated scanner, used for the first time in this investigation, helped police create a 3-D model of what they believe to be the crime scene in Montgomery County.

Thursday, police were training with the new Leica P-40 laser scanner in Roanoke County.

"The equipment measures a million points a second," said Special Agent Kevin Zirkle.

Just two weeks ago, police used that capability in a remote area of the Jefferson National Forest.

Now thanks to the scanner, that area of woods, where police say Nicole Lovell met her death, will live forever.

"10, 15 years from now we could pull that data back up and recreate the crime scene exactly the way it was," said Zirkle.

The machine creates a "point cloud" that is paired with the hundreds of pictures it takes to create a 3-D model of a crime scene.

"Enables the user to create measurements from the virtual crime scene itself without necessarily having to do them or to basically check the ones that were done manually at the scene," said Zirkle.

The scanner costs $200,000.

It's an upgrade over the C-10 scanner the department had been using for the past three years and it works more than twice as fast as the older model.

In addition to preserving data from the scene, police say it can also help them better understand how the crime was committed.

"You could say a perpetrator is 6 foot 1 tall, or a witness for that matter is 6 foot 1 tall, and you can create a view from where that person was located and what they would have seen at the time of the crime," said Zirkle.

State police say there are now seven of the scanners state-wide, one for every division.

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