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!




German Law Would Allow Police to Use DNA to Identify Suspects (DW – 8/2/2019)

  • Police in Germany may soon be able to use DNA to build a more detailed picture of wanted fugitives. Under a new proposed law, authorities could be allowed to identify a suspect’s age as well as skin color.



Ancestry Digitizes Millions of Holocaust Records (New York Times – 8/2/2019)

  • Ancestry, the genealogy and DNA testing company, has digitized millions of records of people who were displaced or persecuted in the Holocaust and made them searchable online at no cost.


RTP Research Group Spearheads Efforts to Clear Backlog of Sexual Assault Cases (ABC News 11 – 8/2/2019)

  • The backlog of sexual assault test kits isn’t just a problem in North Carolina, it’s a national issue.And the effort to not only clear the backlog but also to reform the way sexual assault investigations are handled is being spearheaded in Research Triangle Park.


I Gave my DNA Away. Can I Get it Back? (BBC News – 8/4/2019)

  • A growing number of people are willingly handing over their DNA to corporations in return for learning about their ancestry or to get health reports.

    Why are we prepared to make this trade with our most intimate of data and what are we getting in return?

    And what happens if you want your data back?


‘I am DNA Proof My Father was a Rapist’ (BBC News – 8/5/2019)

  • A woman conceived by rape wants her father brought to justice in a so-called “victimless prosecution”, in one of the first cases of its kind, the BBC has learned.


In Rare Move, DuPage Indicts DNA Profile of Unknown Person Suspected in Death of ‘Baby Hope’, Infant Found Dead Near Wheaton (Chicago Tribune – 8/5/2019)

  • DuPage County prosecutors Monday announced the indictment of a DNA profile of a person suspected to be involved in the case of an infant known as Baby Hope, who was found dead in a backpack along a road near Wheaton three years ago.



How do we Reconcile Law and Science? (The Washington Post – 8/6/2019)

  • How do we ensure that the justice system operates on reliable information? Are there other systems in other parts of the world that do a better job at this? Is it even possible to “fact check” our courts in a way that enforces accountability, or are we simply stuck hoping that appeals court judges will admit and correct their mistakes?



There Will be Blood, and Physics, too: The Messy Science of Bloodstain Pattern Analysis (NOVA – 8/6/2019)

  • Researchers are using fluid dynamics to try to improve the study of crime scene blood spatter.



Our View: Federal Funding Necessary for Clearing Rape Kit Backlog (The Joplin Globe – 8/7/2019)

  • Congress has the opportunity to renew important funding for helping solve a critical issue in the U.S. — the number of untested rape kits languishing on shelves of police departments, hospitals and state crime labs.



Is an Adversarial Justice System Compatible with Good Science? (The Washington Post – 8/7/2019)

  • Some argue that our adversarial justice system is a fundamentally flawed approach for assessing expert testimony — that the qualities and characteristics of a good scientist are contradictory to, or even incompatible with, the sorts of experts that juries tend to find persuasive. Do you agree with that assessment? If so, what can be done to address this problem? Are there systems in other countries that do it better?


‘We Don’t Give Up’: Cold Case Detectives Hope DNA, Witnesses will Lead to Answers in 1979 Murder (FOX 6 Now – 8/7/2019)

  • Nancy Radbil’s case began back in 1979, and throughout the past four decades, Milwaukee Police Department Cold Case Unit detectives have continued picking her case back up, hoping to bring closure.