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!




Parabon Receives First Permit in New York for its Snapshot DNA Analysis (Forensic – 8/7/2020)

  • Parabon NanoLabs announced the company has received a forensic laboratory permit from the New York Department of Health (NYS DoH) to employ its Snapshot Advanced DNA Analysis technologies on forensic DNA samples originating in New York. The permit was granted following an extensive review by NYS DoH of the forensic validation results for Snapshot’s procedures. Additionally, officials from the NYS DoH conducted an inspection of the company’s facilities and conducted an on-site audit as part of this process. It is the first permit issued by NYS DoH for use of genetic genealogy and other Snapshot technologies for forensic investigations.



Othram to Work Toward ID of Skeletal Remains Found in N.C. Storage Unit (Forensic – 8/7/2020)

  • The Durham Police Department is working with Othram to use advanced DNA testing and forensic genealogy to establish an identification of, or to find nearest kin to the decedent.


Police One Step Closer to Unlocking Mystery Behind Unidentified Bones Found Two Years Ago (9 News – 8/7/2020)

  • Now, new DNA phenotyping technology only used 10 times to date in NSW has enabled detectives to form a picture of what the man looked like, assisting police in solving the mystery behind who the victim was and how he died.

Private Equity Wants to Own Your DNA (CBS News – 8/7/2020)

    • Earlier this week, Blackstone announced it was paying $4.7 billion to acquire, a pioneer in pop genetics that was launched in the 1990s to help people find out more about their family heritage.



A Skull, An Unused Gold Filling, No Solid Clues: Inside the Forensic Files (The Age – 8/8/2020)

  • Every fortnight for the past two years, experts from the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, Victoria Police and the coroner’s office have met to discuss and attempt to solve the state’s long-term missing persons cases.

    The small team – coroner John Olle, head of coronial inquiries at VIFM Jodie Leditschke, molecular biologist Dadna Hartman, senior forensic anthropologist Soren Blau and Detective Senior Sergeant Anthony Combridge – is the only team in Australia that meets this way. The Sunday Age was recently granted exclusive access.



Humans Have Had Mystery DNA for 300,000 Years – and Now We Might Finally Know What It Is (SYFY Wire – 8/10/2020)

  • Geneticist and computer scientist Adam Siepel developed an algorithm to trace human genetics and recently published a study in PLOS GeneticsHe and his research team have now found that these groups gave us more of their DNA than we thought, and that some of us have genes from a mysterious ancestral hominid, possibly Homo erectus.


Austin Could Remove Forensics Lab from Police Oversight this Fall, Releases Timeline to Dismantle APD (KXAN Austin – 8/11/2020)

  • The City of Austin could remove the forensics lab and five other programs or services out from under control of the Austin Police Department this fall. It’s the first step in a larger plan to dismantle many areas of the police department and reallocate them under other city departments.



Singapore Marks World Elephant Day with Ivory Crush and New Forensics Centre (Traffic – 8/11/2020)

  • Singapore’s Centre for Wildlife Forensics was launched. It will add other advanced forensics analysis such as DNA and chemical-based methods, expanding on existing morphological and molecular methods, to identify seized wildlife and provide greater insights into wildlife trafficking to tackle the problem.



1996 Alaska Teen Jessica Baggen Rape-Murder Case Solved Through Genealogical DNA (The Daily Beast – 8/12/2020)

  • Jessica Baggen was killed in the early morning hours of her 17th birthday some 24 years ago. Authorities have finally identified the killer—after he took his own life.



Sex Determination Through the Chemical Analysis (Locard’s Lab – 8/13/2020)

  • Fingerprints have been a staple of forensic science for decades, providing a reliable (though not perfect) means of identifying suspects and placing people at crime scenes. In recent years, scientists have turned their attention towards exploring the additional information that could be extracted from fingerprints, in particular, chemical information for police intelligence. Fingerprints are composed of a mixture of chemical compounds both excreted through our skin and picked up from the environment.



Police ID Teen’s Remains Found in Virginia Landfill in 1986 (CBS 19 News – 8/12/2020)

  • The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Wednesday that Chesterfield police said the remains belonged to 16-year-old Christy Lynn Floyd. They were found in 1986.

    Police said Floyd lived in Richmond. Police said in a news release that she was identified through traditional detective work, forensics, DNA analysis and genealogy research.

    Chesterfield police said they worked with the medical examiner and the Virginia Department of Forensic Science. A DNA profile was developed by DNA Labs International, a private forensic lab in Florida.