This Week in Forensic Science

No one has hours to scour the papers to keep up with the latest news, so we’ve curated the top news stories in the field of Forensic Science for this week. Here’s what you need to know to get out the door!


This Week in Forensic Science


Breakthrough in Forensics to Hand Investigators a New Tool in Fight Against Wildlife Crime (Holyrood – 4/20/2018)

  • With illegal traps often placed in remote locations, investigators have previously struggled to collect evidence of wrong doing.

    But, according to the study, new techniques could allowing investigators to retrieve DNA from items exposed to the elements.


Database Wants Your DNA to Help Solve Missing Persons Cases (NBC DFW5 – 4/20/2018)

  • There are about 1,100 missing person cases in Texas and an event Sunday at the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth is hoping to help families take steps to solve them.


DNA Links Same Unknown Rapist to 4 Penn State Attacks (Forensic Magazine – 4/23/2018)

  • The DNA evidence from a rape on the street last summer has been linked to three similar attacks from 2010 and 2011.

    The serial rapist’s genetic profile has not had a hit in any databases—and he remains at large, authorities said Friday, amid warnings to the Penn State community.


New Form of DNA Discovered Inside Living Human Cells (Independent – 4/24/2018)

  • A new DNA structure inside human cells known as the “i-motif”, has been identified by scientists.

    This form resembles a twisted “knot” of DNA, instead of the well-known double helix first described by James Watson and Francis Crick.



Broad Institute Sequences Its 100,000th Whole Human Genome on National DNA Day  (Broad Institute – 4/24/2018)

  • Milestone crossed on the 15th anniversary of the completion of the Human Genome Project, as the worldwide estimate for whole human genomes sequenced approaches one million


Jurors Trust Expert Testimony and Match Probabilities Equally – Up to a Point (Forensic Magazine – 4/25/2018)

  • But there is little difference in the weight of an expert’s testimony and the use of quantifiable statistics, according to a new paper in the Journal of Forensic Sciences.

    The catch: far-flung random match probabilities also did not sway the jurors, add the experts, from the University of Virginia School of Law and the University of California–Irvine.


DNA Off Spent Shell Casings a Matter of Getting in the Nooks and Crannies (Forensic Magazine – 4/25/2018)

  • Getting DNA off spent shell casings, that of whoever loaded the firearm, is not a given. Whether it’s burned off with the heat from the firing of the weapon, or just too smooth a surface to collect skin cells, getting a genetic profile from swabbing alone off this most crucial piece of evidence is a forensic challenge.

    Enter the Bardole Method: what some are calling a revolutionary new technique to wash down shell casings in sterile solution, then a process of filtering the skin cells that are jostled loose in the process.


Alleged Golden State Killer Busted by DNA. But Are Tests ‘100%’ Accurate? (National Geographic – 4/25/2018)

  • Although police say they have a range of evidence in the case, they are touting the strength of what they claim is a 100% DNA match to samples taken from crime scenes decades ago. In response to social buzz around the case, we wanted to explore the concept of a 100% DNA match. What certainty can DNA testing bring to a case?


Chilling ‘I am Jack the Ripper’ Postcard Resurfaces (FoxNews – 4/26/2018)

  • A chilling 19th-century postcard written by someone claiming to be “Jack the Ripper” has resurfaced in the U.K., puzzling experts.

    Once used by police in an attempt to catch the serial killer, the postcard will be offered for sale by Grand Auctions on April 30


All We Know About Joseph DeAngelo, The Golden State Killer Suspect who Became a Suburban Grandfather (The Washington Post – 4/26/2018)

  • Reporters have now begun to piece together the puzzle of DeAngelo’s life — how he wore a police uniform by day while the Golden State Killer stalked at night, and raised children in the wake of those crimes, and blended into Northern California suburbia for decades, appearing to his neighbors as little more than a slightly eccentric old man with a temper.


Scientists Advocate for Forensic Science Reform (The Brown Daily Herald – 4/26/2018)

  • Former members of national commission renounce DOJ’s standard of historical precedence


Police Used DNA Info on Genealogy Websites to Track Down Golden State Killer Suspect (CNN – 4/27/2018)

  • Genetic material from genealogy websites helped bring police a step closer to the man they believe is the Golden State Killer, the Sacramento District Attorney’s office said.