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 Clears Man Who Served 37 Years in Prison for 1983 Crime (New York Post – 8/28/2020)

  • A Florida man who served 37 years behind bars walked out of prison one day after prosecutors said DNA evidence exonerated him in a 1983 murder and rape of a woman in Tampa.



Rapid DNA Analysis a New Tool for Forensic Laboratories (In Public Safety – 8/28/2020)

  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) developed the expeditious testing of DNA samples known as Rapid DNA analysis. Congress passed the Rapid DNA Act in 2017 with the hope of reducing the nationwide backlog of DNA cases.

    The purpose of the fully automated processing of a buccal (oral swab) DNA sample is to obtain results in fewer than two hours. The legislation broadens the ability of law enforcement to use rapid DNA sequencing technology and upload resulting data into a federal database.


24-Year-Old Cold Case: A Hunt Through a Genetic Haystack (Forensic – 8/31/2020)

  • Earlier this month, the Alaska Department of Public Safety announced that it solved its third cold case in a year and a half by using a relatively new investigative tactic, genetic genealogy. Jessica Baggen was sexually assaulted and murdered more than two decades ago in Sitka. Her death left her family and community grieving and overwhelmed. It also haunted the investigators that spent years trying to figure out what they had missed and what else could be done to bring justice and solace to the Baggen family.


Women in Forensics: The Beauty of a Forensic Science Degree (Forensic – 8/31/2020)

  • A few years ago, I made the switch from over the counter lotions to whipped and raw shea butter—best decision ever! Being a scientist has made me more aware of what I eat and the products I use on my body. Am I the only scientist that spends more time in the grocery store reading the labels? I’ve noticed a surge of forensic scientists on “the gram” and came across a profile for Xanthines All Natural Products, a company owned and created by award-winning forensic toxicologist, Tamykah Anthony.


Still too Soon to Try Altering Human Embryo DNA, Panel Says (ABC News – 9/3/2020)

  • An international panel of medical experts says it’s still too soon to try to make genetically edited babies because the science isn’t advanced enough to ensure it can be done safely


New in Forensics: Using Plants to Find Dead Bodies (Courthouse News Service – 9/3/2020)

  • Can plants help direct search teams to find a missing body in the forest? Scientists believe so, based on an array of changes to the surrounding soil caused by nutrients released during decomposition.


400-Year-Old Chamois Could Offer Clues to Preserving Degraded DNA (Forensic – 9/4/2020)

  • Researchers who discovered a 400-year-old chamois preserved in ice will study the remains to improve the conservation techniques of mummies around the world.



Minnesota PD, Othram Look to ID Skull Dating Pre-1967 (Forensic – 9/4/2020)

  • Investigators are turning to advanced DNA testing in the hopes of uncovering the mystery behind a skull found in the basement of a Spring Grove, Minnesota home.