Aug 10 2018

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


Isotopes of Stonehenge Skulls Last Through Cremation, Millennia (Forensic Magazine – 8/3/2018)

  • Skulls cremated at Stonehenge thousands of years ago have yielded stable isotopes, forensically answering some questions about the ancient peoples using the megalithic monument as a massive graveyard.


It Started as a Hobby. Now They’re Using DNA to Help Cops Crack Cold Cases (CNN – 8/3/2018)

  • In a dizzying span over the past few months, some of the nation’s most frustratingly unsolvable cold cases have suddenly been, well, solved. These breakthroughs have come thanks to DNA evidence and a new field of study known as genetic genealogy — pioneered by a group of passionate and largely unpaid hobbyists.


Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Over Rape Kit Backlog (Forensic Magazine – 8/6/2018)

  • A federal judge has dismissed a class action lawsuit filed by thousands of women and minors against current and former Houston officials over delays in testing of rape kits.

    The lawsuit alleged the officials allowed the delays, meaning suspects remained free and justice was denied to the victims.


Delaware Police Hope DNA Rendering of Woman Brutally Murdered in 1977 Can Heat Up Cold Case (Fox News – 8/6/2018)

  • Police hope a DNA rendering of a woman found badly decomposed in Delaware 41 years ago can breathe new life into a mystery that’s stumped investigators for decades.

    New Castle County police released a new image of a Jane Doe on Sunday, which had been created with DNA-based reconstruction technology, according to Delaware Online.



Experts Call for CSI Reform at San Antonio Forensics Event (Texas Public Radio – 8/6/2018)

  • While 1,400 crime scene investigators, fingerprint examiners, and forensic pathologists learned about the latest in forensic technology last week in San Antonio at the International Association for Identification’s annual International Educational Conference, questions remain around the current science that can lead to convictions.


New Arizona Task Force Works to Right Wrongful Convictions Through Hair Evidence (Forensic Magazine – 8/7/2018)

  • After finding fault with testimony from its own analysts in over 90 percent of the reviewed cases, the FBI sounded a nationwide alarm. The agency notified state governors and crime labs of its concerns, urging a review of all cases that involved such evidence.

    Arizona heeded the call, forming a hair-review task force, which grew out of the Arizona Forensic Science Advisory Committee. The task force includes representatives from the attorney general’s office, the Department of Public Safety, the Phoenix police crime lab, the nonprofit Arizona Justice Project and the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University’s Post-Conviction Clinic.


Philly Exhumations Forensically Unearth 7 Cold Cases (Forensic Magazine – 8/7/2018)

  • The seven cold cases are the suspicious deaths of children and adults, five of which were found in water, who died between 1962 and 1984—and for whom there have never been answers since they were laid to rest in the Philadelphia City Cemetery decades ago.


Deputy AG: Forensic Science is Not Only Numbers, Automation (Forensic Magazine – 8/8/2018)

  • Forensic science has been “under attack” in recent years—coming under fire for anything that doesn’t have a quantitative basis, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told the National Symposium on Forensic Science on Tuesday.

    But the quickly-evolving statistics of DNA forensics and other pursuits doesn’t mean that traditional trace evidence like fingerprints, shell casings and shoe marks are any less scientific, Rosenstein said, cautioning against an “erroneously narrow view” of forensic critics.



Rod Rosenstein Still Doesn’t Get the Problem with Forensics (Washington Post – 8/9/2018)

  • Despite a stream of crime lab scandals, the doubt cast on forensics by DNA exonerations and blistering critiques of entire fields of forensics from the scientific community, Rosenstein insists that we should stop insisting that “forensic science” meet the standards of “science,” and that we should trust the Justice Department to fix these problems internally, without input from independent scientific bodies.