Cleaning up the crime scene mess

In gear:  BioResponse employee dressed up.
In gear: BioResponse employee dressed up. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Once a crime happens, often leaving blood and gruesome traces of a life taken, someone has to clean up the mess.

That’s where companies that specialize in cleaning up hazardous materials such as Miami-based BioResponse Corp. come in.

Wearing head-to-toe protective suits, workers use strong disinfectants and odor-neutralizing chemicals to get rid of blood and other bodily fluids. And in extreme cases — such as when a body has been sitting for a long period of time without anyone noticing — they also have to get rid of the stench.

“I saw a real need for it,” said Rick deJesus, BioResponse Corp. co-owner and a firefighter. “You have families asking you to clean it up and we didn’t provide that service.”

DeJesus began researching the topic and realized there weren’t a lot of companies specializing in cleaning crime scenes. So, 10 years ago, he teamed up with a childhood buddy and created BioResponse Corp.

Now the company operates out of a warehouse and has five employees that respond to calls 24 hours a day.

Simply “taking a hose” and washing off the blood doesn’t get rid of blood-born diseases including HIV and hepatitis. He added that blood can seep into crevices, where it can decay and contaminate if not detected.

To really clean a scene, every little splatter or spot of blood must be scrubbed away — even if that means throwing away carpets or furniture. Depending on the situation, the company may have to break down walls and do heavy demolition. Cleanup costs can range from $1,000 to $15,000, depending on the severity of the situation.

BioResponse usually responds to a crime scene a week, including murder suicides and shootings. The company, which has contracts with several municipalities including Miami-Dade, also cleans blood, feces and urine off police cars. If a crime happens on private property, either the property manager or homeowner is responsible for the cleanup. And then it becomes an insurance issue.

DeJesus said the job isn’t always easy. The hardest jobs are what he calls “unattended deaths,” or situations where a body was not found for several days. Murder suicides are also tough.

“When you are cleaning a scene, you can picture what happened,” he said.

But at the end of the day, he said he and his employees “always try to remember that these are real people we are dealing with.”

“We try to leave things like nothing ever happened,” he said.

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