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!




DNA Reveals Megalithic Tombs were Family Graves (Independent – 4/28/2019)

  • DNA testing of teeth found in megalithic tombs older than the pyramids has revealed how family members as much as 12 generations apart were buried together by our Stone Age ancestors.


Case Study: Targeted Swabbing When Genealogy Trees Aren’t Enough? (Forensic Magazine – 4/29/2019)


DNA Search Angels: the Facebook ‘Detectives’ Who Help Reunite Families (The Guardian – 4/29/2019)

  • Volunteers are helping others find their roots, and revolutionizing the young science of genetic genealogy




Novel DNA Test to Accurately Identify WWII Soldiers (Business Standard – 4/29/2019)

  • Researchers developed a targeted SNP panel to identify ancestral origins of Australian and Japanese WWII soldiers. SNPs have become a commonly used genetic marker for ancestry. The panel also includes genetic variation information on hair and eye color as an extra layer of identification.


Italians Try to Crack Leonardo da Vinci DNA Code with Lock of Hair (The Guardian – 4/29/2019)

  • Two Italian experts are set to perform a DNA test on a lock of hair that they say might have belonged to Leonardo da Vinci.

    The hair strand was found in a private collection in the US and will go on display for the first time at the Ideale Leonardo da Vinci museum in Vinci (the Tuscan town where the artist was born), from 2 May, the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death.


Utah Nonprofit Plans DNA Testing Lab it Says Will ‘Revolutionize Cold Cases’ in U.S. (FOX News – 4/29/2019)

  • A non-profit in Utah plans to build a DNA testing lab that they say will revolutionize the handling of cold cases.

    The Utah Cold Case Coalition, which relies on a volunteer staff and was founded to help bring attention to the cold case 1995 murder of a six-year-old named Rosie Tapia, signed a lease for space for the lab in an office building in the city of Murray.



New DNA Test Stops Illegal Shipment of Endangered Eels (Forensic Magazine – 4/30/2019)

  • Researchers have developed a new method to identify illegally trafficked European eels, and it has already led to the arrest and prosecution of smugglers in Hong Kong.

    The team’s DNA testing method has proven to be quick, highly accurate at detecting protected wildlife, easy to administer and cheap, costing about $1 per sample. It was originally developed to help customs officials identify protected shark species for fins and other shark meat passing through borders.


Exclusive: DHS to Start DNA Testing to Establish Family Relationships on the Border (CNN Politics – 5/1/2019)


Genetic Genealogy Used to Identify Suspect in 25-Year-Old Vancouver Homicide (KATU 2 – 4/30/2019)

  • Using genetic genealogy, Vancouver police detectives identified a man accused of raping and murdering a woman 25 years ago.


Forensic Science Labs are on the Brink of Collapse, Warns Report (The Guardian – 5/1/2019)

  • A crisis in forensic science has brought some of the country’s largest private laboratories to the brink of collapse, risking miscarriages of justice, an inquiry has warned.

    The House of Lords science and technology committee has called for urgent reforms to forensic science provision, warning that declining standards could lead to crimes going unsolved and an erosion of public trust in the criminal justice system.


DNA Testing Sought in Case of Man Executed for 1985 Murder (FOX News – 5/2/2019)

  • The daughter of a Tennessee man executed in 2006 for a woman’s rape and murder filed a petition Tuesday seeking DNA testing of crime scene evidence that she hopes will prove her father’s innocence.



Case Study: 30-Year-Old Cold Case Fingerprints Come to Light (Forensic Magazine – 5/2/2019)

  • A team at the Sûreté du Québec police force in Canada has put together a methodology involving fuming, dyes and lasers which produced a clear fingerprint on a challenging plastic bag surface from a double-homicide scene from the 1980s, as they report in the journal Forensic Science International.



California Forensic Labs will Use STRmix (Yahoo! – 5/2/2019)

  • Two California forensic labs – the Orange County Crime Lab (OCCL) and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Forensic Science Division – are the latest in the U.S. to announce plans to use STRmix™ to resolve DNA profiles in criminal investigations.



DNA Testing Helps Clear City’s Rape-Case Backlog (The Philadelphia – 5/2/2019)

  • The District Attorney’s Office and the Philadelphia Police announced that as many as 65 open rape cases may be impacted following the testing of 1,574 previously untested forensic evidence collection kits, or “rape kits,” some dating back as far as the 1980s.



Rape Kit Backlog Forcing City to Look Outward, Victims Notified Years Later (The Daily Texan – 5/2/2019)

  • Austin Police Department’s thousands of backlogged rape kits have been tested, but still need to be reviewed and entered into the Combined DNA Index Systems, the FBI’s national DNA database. While the Austin-area DNA lab is indexing DNA kits from the backlog, APD needs other labs to index the new cases that arrive each month.