Don Lindley Offers an Inside Look at Crime Scene Investigations With CSI: Regis

As a Denver police officer, Don Lindley's mission wasn't just to serve and protect. He also wanted to educate, and in the ’70s, he started teaching at what is now Metropolitan State University of Denver. In 2003, he moved to Regis University, after a Regis faculty member heard one of Lindley’s community academy talks for the Denver Police Department.

At the time, criminal justice classes that focused on the system of cops, corrections and courts were far more common than criminology programs, which study why people commit the crimes they commit. Lindley thought that created a good opportunity for Regis, and as he prepared to retire from the Denver Police Department in 2005, he developed a curriculum for a new master’s in criminology at Regis.

He didn't stop there: Lindley also founded the annual Regis University Crime Scene Investigation Conference. Every year, he seeks out people who investigated major crimes and invites them to speak at the free conference. In its first few editions, the conference followed a more traditional model with multiple days and seminars; over time, though, Lindley realized that committing a whole weekend to crime investigation just wasn't feasible for many people. CSI: Regis, which returns on May 13, is now a single evening with a keynote speaker.
click to enlarge Don Lindley developed the criminology commitment at Regis University. - ERICA SANCHEZ
Don Lindley developed the criminology commitment at Regis University.
Erica Sanchez
“CSI is designed to bring factual presentations to citizens, to professionals, to students who want to learn about these offenders from people who knew them and investigated them,” Lindley says. “What better resource than the people who were right at the scene?”

Past speakers include the primary investigators from the Sandy Hook shooting and the Green River Killer case, as well as Anne E. Schwartz, who wrote The Man Who Could Not Kill Enough about Jeffrey Dahmer.
click to enlarge Darren Versiga is this year's Regis: CSI speaker. - REGIS UNIVERSITY
Darren Versiga is this year's Regis: CSI speaker.
Regis University

This year's speaker is Lieutenant Darren Versiga, a Mississippi investigator who was on the Samuel Little case. Little was a serial killer who confessed to murdering 93 women between 1970 and 2005. “I got on Google one time, and I put in ‘Who's the most prolific serial killer?’ and Samuel Little popped up, and I thought, ‘Who's that guy?'” Lindley recalls. “A lot of people, including me, who think they know everything about crime, didn’t know that [Little] was our most prolific serial killer.”

From there, Lindley looked for the lead investigator on the case and found Versiga, who works for the Pascagoula Police Department in Mississippi. Lindley is anticipating a full house for his presentation.

“The first four or five conferences were brought on because of just my interest in the discipline, and I thought maybe other people would be interested — and as it turns out, they were,” Lindley says. “But more recently, on TV, my goodness, that's all you see. People are really into cops and crime. That was kind of what motivated probably the last ten years or twelve years of these conferences.”

As the popularity of the true-crime genre has grown, so has the popularity of criminology degrees, and many other schools have added that offering since Lindley created it for Regis. As a police officer, he worked everywhere from street patrol to vice and narcotics to the data bureau; his experience as an educator and officer combined with his doctorate in business administration with a focus in criminology made him a perfect fit to develop the program.

The conference, now in its twentieth year, helps attract potential students for Regis's criminology master's program, and for the university in general. But for Lindley, it’s all about gathering together people interested in the same subject to learn from experts.

"Investigating Samuel Little, America’s Deadliest Serial Killer" will run from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, May 13, in the Mountain View Room at Regis University. Admission is free and seating is limited;  register for CSI: Regis here.