From Evidence to Narrative: The Convergence of True Crime Media and DNA Forensics – ISHI News


From Evidence to Narrative: The Convergence of True Crime Media and DNA Forensics

Tuesday September 24th, 2024 // 8:45 am - 10:50 am

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This year’s keynote spotlights the dynamic intersection of true crime and DNA forensics: from unraveling mysteries and personal narratives to inspiring change and advancing justice. Our panel of speakers will share their insights and experiences, underscoring the pivotal role of DNA in connecting the past with the present and shaping the future.


Dr. Anna Barbaro will explore the influence of the true crime phenomenon on the increasing number of women entering the forensic profession. She’ll discuss how true crime media has not only raised public awareness of forensic science but also inspired a diverse new generation of scientists, especially women, to pursue careers in this field.


Professor Turi King will share her experiences from the BBC Two show “DNA Family Secrets,” where she uses DNA testing to solve deeply personal family mysteries, find missing relatives, and uncover hereditary illnesses. She’ll discuss the emotional and scientific aspects of these investigations, highlighting the power of DNA in connecting past and present. King’s talk will also touch on the broader implications of these discoveries, including ethical considerations and the impact on individuals’ identities and family histories. This talk will showcase how genetic genealogy is not just a tool for academics but a bridge that connects individuals to their personal and familial narratives, weaving a compelling story of science, history, and human emotion.


Ashley Flowers will take the audience on a journey through her evolution from one of the first true crime podcasters to the founder of Season of Justice. She’ll delve into her initial motivations for starting the “Crime Junkie” podcast, discussing how her passion for true crime and storytelling led her to this path. Ashley will share her experiences and challenges in creating engaging yet respectful true crime content, highlighting her unique approach to storytelling. Moving beyond podcasting, she will discuss the inception of Season of Justice, a non-profit organization aimed at providing financial resources to law enforcement agencies and families to help solve cold cases. She will explain how her work in podcasting revealed the often-overlooked need for resources in cold case investigations and how this realization prompted her to take action.

Ashley’s talk will provide insights into the transformative power of media in driving social change, exemplifying how passion and public engagement can evolve into tangible action in the field of justice and forensics. Her story is a testament to the impact that one individual can have in bringing attention to cold cases and aiding in their resolution, bridging the gap between public fascination and active contribution to the field of forensic science and criminal justice.


Patty Wetterling, a name synonymous with resilience and advocacy, became a beacon of hope and change following the abduction of her son, Jacob, in 1989. This personal tragedy propelled her into the forefront of child safety advocacy, leading her to champion for stronger protection laws and the creation of the national sex offender registry. Her unwavering commitment has not only provided solace to countless families affected by similar tragedies but has also sparked significant advancements in the use of forensic DNA to solve cold cases and prevent future crimes. Wetterling’s story is a powerful reminder of the impact one person can have on transforming personal grief into a nationwide movement for change, underscoring the vital role of forensic science in bringing justice and closure to affected families.


Joy Baker, an investigative blogger, played a pivotal role in solving Jacob Wetterling’s case, demonstrating the profound impact of digital platforms in forensic investigations. Baker’s work underscores the potential of online platforms to galvanize community involvement, support law enforcement efforts, and ultimately contribute to solving long-standing mysteries through collaboration and shared information.


Joy Baker

Author | Investigative Blogger

Joy Baker is the author of the joy.the.curious blog and co-author of Dear Jacob: A Mother's Journey of Hope, which details the 27-year search for Jacob Wetterling, who was abducted at gunpoint as a child. Joy began researching the case, and it was her investigative blog that helped to break the case open in 2016.

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Anna Barbaro

President, Worldwide Association of Women Forensic Experts

Anna Barbaro serves as President of the Worldwide Association of Women Forensic Experts, an honor member of various scientific associations, reviewer for several international scientific journals and is a  Member of the Editorial Committee of international scientific journals. Anna has been an invited speaker at various national and international conferences, is an organizer of courses and conferences about Forensic Sciences, and a member of the Scientific Committee of several courses and conferences. She is the Director of the Studio Indagini Mediche E Forensi (SIMEF) laboratory (Italy), a researcher at the University of Alcalà (Spain), and professor in several degree and post-degree courses about Forensic science.

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Ashley Flowers

Founder of AudioChuck | Podcaster | Best-Selling Author | Advocate

Ashley Flowers is the Founder and Chief Creative Officer of audiochuck, an Indiana-based, award-winning, independent media company with 10+ chart-topping podcasts and over 2 billion listener downloads. Ashley is committed to redefining true crime and setting new standards within independent media. Driven by her passion for advocacy, Flowers founded the nonprofit Season of Justice, which offers financial resources to both investigative agencies and families to help solve cold cases. To date, Season of Justice has granted over $1 million for DNA analysis and other essential resources to help bring resolution to families of victims.

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Turi King

Scientist | Presenter | Speaker | Author

Professor Turi King is a Canadian/British geneticist. She started her career as an archaeologist in Canada before reading for a degree in Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge before moving into genetics, Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys, the inventor of DNA fingerprinting being on her PhD panel. She combined these two areas of expertise leading on how to excavate under clean conditions and then leading the genetic identification of the remains of King Richard III. She now co-presents BBC DNA Family Secrets where she uses DNA to help people find missing family and learn more about their ancestry.

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Patty Wetterling

Speaker | Educator | Author

Patty Wetterling is a nationally recognized speaker and educator on the issues of child abduction and sexual exploitation. In 1990, she co-founded the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center with her husband, Jerry, three months after their 11-year-old son, Jacob, was abducted by a masked gunman near their home in St. Joseph, Minnesota. In the decades since, Patty’s relentless search for her son has led her to become a visionary of hope, a catalyst for change, and an inspiration to parents everywhere.

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