This Week in Forensic Science – ISHI News

Aug 20 2021

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!




‘Forensics Stop People Getting Away with Murder’ (BBC News – 8/12/2021)

  • When Tom Nelson began his career in forensic science, they needed a blood stain the size of an old 50p coin to identify someone’s blood type. Forty years later, as he steps down as the head of Scotland’s forensic service, they can get a full DNA profile from a sample too small to see. His message to anyone who thinks they’ve got away with murder is simple. Science will catch up with you in the end.


KSP Hopes DNA Doe Project Helps Solve Grant County Cold Case (WTVQ 36 – 8/13/2021)

  • The Kentucky State Police are using the DNA Doe Project (DDP), an initiative that uses genetic genealogy to identify John and Jane Does, to help solve a cold case

    Recently, this technology was used to solve a 2001 cold case in Bowling Green, identifying 45-year-old Dawn Clare Plonsky Wilkerson, of Nashville, Tenn.


DNA Used to Identify Man After 26 Years (Discover Weyburn – 8/15/2021)

  • In July 0f 1995, a man was struck by a train on the west edge of Regina. Authorities had no way to identify him, and he was a John Doe for 26 years. Then, the Saskatchewan Coroners Service, through the services of a company called Ortham, was able to solve the identity of the man.

    Using genealogic DNA research, the American-based firm was able to determine the identity of the man: Michael Kirov, from Winnipeg.


DNA on Metal Cart Links Man to Homeless Woman’s Murder (Antelope Valley Press – 8/15/2021)

  • A man has been charged with murdering a homeless woman in Oakland after authorities linked him to DNA found on a metal cart used to attack her.

    Police said in court records they also linked Eric D. Scott, 44, to the brutal beating because he broke his hand and needed a doctor on Feb. 25, the same day the victim was found lying on a sidewalk with serious blunt-force trauma.


Touch DNA from Pills Can Snare Drug Makers, Dealers (Forensic – 8/16/2021)

  • In the study, published in Forensic Science International: Genetics, two participants handled three types of drug capsules for 15 seconds. Before handling, the participants washed their hands without soap, and then touched the bottom and lid of a capsule for 15 seconds before joining them together and placing in a Ziplock bag. The two participants did this 10 times for each capsule type, with at least one hour between each sample.

    Using PCR-based methodology that is common in most of today’s forensic DNA laboratories, the scientists recovered DNA quantities ranging from 0.006 to 3.700 ng, with an average of 0.267 ng. According to the study results, full profiles (46 alleles) were obtained for 25% of the 60 samples. The overall average number of donor alleles recovered was 30. Overall, 80% of profiles were classed as “informative” for donor alleles.


New DNA Technology Leads to Arrest in 1981 Carmel Cold Case Murder (KPIX5 – 8/16/2021)

  • Sheriff’s detectives in Monterey County credited modern DNA technology for the arrest of a man on Saturday night in connection with a murder that happened nearly 40 years ago.


Predictive Forensics Helps Determine Where Soil Samples Came From (EOS – 8/16/2021)

  • Researchers deploy geochemical analyses to narrow down the search area for a soil sample’s site of origin—an approach that could prove useful to law enforcement.



Judge Declares Man Wrongfully Imprisoned for Cleveland Heights Rape After DNA Cleared Him of 2002 Attack ( – 8/16/2021)

  • A Cuyahoga County judge Monday found a man who had spent more than 16 years in prison for a rape that DNA evidence says he did not commit wrongfully imprisoned.



New Clue to Human Evolution’s Biggest Mystery Emerges in Philippines (CNN – 8/16/2021)

  • Now, DNA from 3,000 miles (4,828 kilometers) away in the Philippines is shedding more light on human evolution’s biggest mystery.
    New research published Thursday has found that a Philippine ethnic group known as the Ayta Magbukon has the highest known level of Denisovan ancestry in the world.



Study Evaluates the Use of Hands as a Biometric Identifier (Forensic – 8/16/2021)

  • Security systems rely on detailed images of hands to ensure permissions and access to private information and spaces. So while hands can definitely be used for identification purposes, evidential images of hands pre-, during and post-crime are never of the quality used for infrared imaging on security systems.

    Evidence is often captured in uncontrolled situations, making it difficult to analyze. Still, researchers from Lancaster University (UK) argue there is a strong need to investigate the potential for identification from digital images of the hand, especially in cases of sexual assault where hand information may be the only biometric available for analysis.



S.C. Sheriff: Arrest in ’92 Cold Case Death of Baby Girl in River (Forensic – 8/18/2021)

  • Nearly 30 years after an infant girl’s stabbed body was found floating on a South Carolina river, authorities announced the arrest Tuesday of the child’s mother and said she has been charged in the death.

    Stacy Michelle Costner Rabon, 48, of Rock Hill, South Carolina, faces a charge of homicide by child abuse in connection with the girl’s death in August 1992, news outlets reported. Only hours old when she died, the child was found wrapped in a bedsheet inside a plastic grocery bag that was discovered by a swimmer on the Catawba River, officials said.



Mobile Forensics Van Speeds Up Connecticut Shooting Investigations (NBC CT – 8/18/2021)

  • A new mobile van is helping Hartford police enter ballistic evidence from shootings at an unprecedented pace.

    This technology is even more important as Hartford’s homicides have already outpaced the numbers from this time last year.