Much like in the television mystery “Dexter,” large rolls of blood-splattered paper and plastic tarps line Jeffrey Gentry’s garage walls.
Gentry is a certified death scene investigator and bloodstain pattern analyst in Fresno. And, on his time off, he shares his knowledge of blood patterns with more than 81,000 TikTok followers by re-creating real-life crime scenes.
It’s a family production with his wife and kids often helping create the educational videos for his social media platforms.
While other kids and their fathers throw a baseball around or kick a soccer ball, Gentry and his 7-year-old daughter, Aubrey, often spend several afternoons hitting bloody sponges with baseball bats.
“It’s one of the things she likes doing,” said Gentry. “To the outside person, it’s kind of weird, but for our family, it’s not abnormal.”
Blood Pattern Work Can Help in Death Scene Investigations
Gentry has investigated more than 3,000 deaths in the last 13 years, including hundreds of homicides and traffic accidents.
“Through my work as a death scene investigator, I have been witness to a lot of bloody scenes,” said Gentry. “I like going to the scenes. I think it’s very interesting, but I’m looking at it from a scientific side of things.”
Gentry’s work is important. Sometimes it’s the difference between a crime going unsolved and a family getting justice for the loss of a loved one.
After Gentry finishes analyzing a death scene, he is usually tasked with notifying the family of the person who died.
“I’ve woken people up in the middle of the night and told them your kid has died in a car accident or you know someone committed a suicide or a homicide victim, and it’s horrible every single time,” said Gentry.
“I still get nervous every single time I give a death notification. … You have to be very serious, but you also have to be compassionate. You can’t just deliver that news and take off.”
There Aren’t Many Certified Bloodstain Pattern Analysts
Gentry is one of only six certified blood pattern analysts in California and one of 60 in the world.
“I’m seeing a lot of bloody scenes, and so that’s what got me interested in the blood pattern analysis,” said Gentry. ” I realized that there’s not a lot of blood pattern analysts around.”
Becoming a bloodstain analyst isn’t easy, Gentry said. You must have the right scientific academic credentials and at least 240 hours of specific training in blood pattern work.
Gentry graduated from UC Merced with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology and then earned a master’s degree in administration in 2009.
What Can you Learn from Gentry’s TikTok videos?
Many of Gentry’s videos focus on showing the types of blood patterns and stains found at crime scenes. Often, he uses fake blood or draws his own blood to demonstrate.
For example, someone who gets punched in the face repeatedly could have a broken nose that produces round bloody droplets similar to someone who accidentally cuts their hand with a knife.
Gentry explains that someone who is higher from the ground might end up producing a different patterned droplet than a person who is close to the ground.
Additionally, Gentry shows the types of blood patterns that show up on the floor or on a wall if someone was hit by a blunt object, which often makes much smaller and more rapid blood patterns.
Gentry says he tries to be as educational as possible and he often challenges viewers to decide whether the blood they are seeing is real or fake.
However, perhaps the greatest joy of all in making the videos is the additional time Gentry gets to spend with his family — showing that a guy with a job like his can lead a pretty normal life even if his line of work is anything but normal.
A Family of Blood Pattern Experts
Gentry’s family is totally at ease with his videos, the blood-spattered garage walls, and crime scene props.
In fact, Aubrey often appears in the videos, helping him recreate bloody crime scenes and come up with fun ideas.
She will often come home from school explaining that she noticed blood in the school restroom or spotted a dead animal near the school.
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His wife and daughter Sophie also get in on the fun by helping set up lighting and cameras.
Gentry doesn’t know if any of his children will follow in his footsteps, but they all seem to have an affinity for science and mathematics.
“I love spending time with my family,” said Gentry. “It is really fun as a father seeing your kids interested in something you are so passionate about.”
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Gentry hopes that through his videos he can inspire more kids and college students to become interested in his work and follow a similar career path.
He’s done some teaching and participates in career days at the Central Unified School District. And, he provides an online bloodstain pattern class through the Death Investigation Academy.
In the future, Gentry hopes to do a lot more teaching and forensic consulting.
“I have taught college-level forensic science and math to police academies and all the way down to elementary age kids,” said Gentry. “I think teaching kids is my favorite because they just soak the information right up.”