Anita Kay Wonder, a forensic science specialist and founder and director of The Wonder Institute, died May 30 of natural causes. She was 72.
Ms. Wonder’s family and close friends knew her as a woman who was passionate about traveling, teaching and solving mysteries.
The Sacramento resident published three textbooks on bloodstain pattern evidence and taught classes on forensic science to law enforcement officers, prosecutors and investigators, said G. Michele Yezzo, a colleague and close friend of Ms. Wonder’s for the past 30 years.
Ms. Wonder was an animated teacher who often spoke with her hands, Yezzo said. She believed in learning from doing and incorporated active participation from her students.
One time, she set up a mock crime scene in the garage of her home, Yezzo said. Wonder had her students analyze the blood spattered to learn about analyzing different patterns.
“She didn’t want to be the expert,” Yezzo said. “She wanted people to use the evidence.”
In addition to teaching, Ms. Wonder enjoyed traveling but always had forensic science cases on her mind.
In 1987, Ms. Wonder and Yezzo drove from Sacramento to Vancouver, Canada, in Wonder’s beloved forest green convertible Porsche. On the way home, their car broke down on Interstate 5. As they waited for help, Ms. Wonder told Yezzo about a murderer on that same interstate.
Ms. Wonder was born with partial hearing loss and learned how to read lips, said David Long, Ms. Wonder’s cousin. At age 30, she completely lost her hearing while traveling in Cairo, Egypt.
Despite having hearing problems, she never let it stop her from exploring the world, Long said. She journeyed to places such as India, Australia, China, Peru and South Africa, Long said.
“She was one of those people who really wanted to see it and do it,” Yezzo said.
Ms. Wonder’s resiliency and willingness to jump out of her comfort zone, try new activities and learn inspired her family and friends across the globe, said Linda Smith, Ms. Wonder’s cousin.
“She was the bravest and most amazing person I have ever known,” Smith said. “She was a force to be reckoned with.”
She received a bachelor of science in microbiology at UC Davis and a master of arts in criminal justice at California State University, Sacramento. She also founded The Wonder Institute, a forensic science consulting, training and research association that focuses on bloodstain pattern analysis.
In lieu of flowers, Wonder’s family is requesting donations in her honor to her favorite charities: the Sacramento Council on Deafness or the Wounded Warrior Project.
A memorial service for family and friends will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at W.F. Gormley & Sons, 2015 Capitol Ave., Sacramento.
Jennifer Crane: @jenn_crane