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 header


For Years, Potential Rape Evidence Went Untested. What the State Did to Fix That (KIRO 7 – 8/25/2017)

  • Money appropriated by the Legislature will make some progress in cutting the number of untested kits, but an additional $1.5 million will be needed to end the backlog, according to the SAFE task force.

Using DNA to Paint a Face: Research Seeks to Unlock the Identity Secrets of Our Genes ( – 8/26/2017)

  • Dr Mark Barash has collected DNA from more than 1,300 Australians and is in the process of turning them into “molecular portraits”.


From the Crime Scene to the Courtroom: The Journey of a DNA Sample (The Conversation – 8/28/2017)

  • By following a piece of evidence from the crime scene to the courtroom, we’ll explain just how DNA is studied in the lab and used in the modern legal system.


With a Simple DNA Test, Family Histories are Rewritten (The New York Times – 8/28/2017)

  • Widespread DNA testing has shed light on the ancestry of millions of Americans. But these services have limitations, and the results can be uncertain.


UNT DNA Funding Returns, Resuming Search for Names of Dead (Forensic Magazine – 8/29/2017)

  • For six months, detectives had built a backlog of bones. The death investigators accustomed to sending biological samples of the unnamed dead of America—crucial clues in homicides and unsolved deaths—to the University of North Texas Health Science Center were stopped from doing so when the program froze for lack of federal funding.

    But now the money has been restored, and the laboratory’s doors are open to law enforcement agencies nationwide, effective Friday.


The Forensic Myth: Our Forensic Expert Tackles Some of TV’s Biggest Fibs (The Guardian – 8/29/2017)

  • The popularity of depicting forensic science on the silver screen, however, has come at the cost of an ongoing ‘forensic myth’: the widespread misunderstanding held by both law enforcement bodies and civilian juries as to how forensic science works and how effective it can be in prosecuting a suspect.


Alaska Officials Draft Plan to Test Shelved Sex Assault Kits (Forensic Magazine – 8/30/2017)

  • Alaska authorities are working with advocacy groups to draft guidelines for testing the state’s sexual assault kits, some of which have been shelved for years due to lack of funding.


Nazi Execution of Polish Hostages Identified Through DNA (Forensic Magazine – 8/31/2017)

  • The latest 20th century mass grave was excavated outside the walls of a former jail in the city of Bialystok. The archaeological work, and follow-up DNA analysis, have now identified it as the scene of a Nazi SS war crime. The identification now also casts into doubt an even bigger grave the Soviets blamed the Nazis for in the postwar period, as the Polish team reports in the journal Forensic Science International.


In 2004 Cold Case, A Big Break Emerges (WGRZ – 8/31/2017)

  • With the help of emerging technology known as DNA “phenotyping,” Las Vegas Metro Police have now released a composite facial image of a possible suspect. The DNA results compiled some basic characteristics about the suspect: male, primarily of Southeast Asian descent, dark eyes, black hair.


DNA Solves Mystery of ‘America’s 1st Serial Killer’ H.H. Holmes (NBC Bay Area – 8/31/2017)

  • An eight-part television show called “American Ripper” on the History Channel that examined the life, death and legends surrounding mass murderer Herman Mudgett, aka H.H. Holmes, has concluded


The Link Between Animal Abuse and Murder (The Atlantic – 8/31/2017)

  • A forensic veterinarian is on a mission to convince law enforcement that people who harm pets often commit other serious crimes.


University of Greenwich Forensics Lecturer Working to Solve the Mysteries of Bloodstain Patterns (The Wharf – 8/31/2017)

  • Dr Jennifer Guest is a former forensic scientist with the Metropolitan Police and is using a cardiovascular pump to understand more about the spraying of blood from severed arteries