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

East Asia DNA has Changed Little Since the Stone Age, Study Reports (Science Recorder – 2/3/2017)

  • An international team of researchers led by scientists from the University of Cambridge have found a distinct “genetic continuity” between modern East Asians and their Stone Age ancestors, a paper in the journal Science Advances reports.


Assembly Bill Would Require DNA Kits to be Tested Within 30 Days (Las Vegas Review-Journal  – 2/3/2017)

  • Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt is pushing to make sure DNA kits from sexual assault cases are tested in a timely manner from now on.


DNA Database Offers Best Tool to Solve Crimes (The StarPress – 2/4/2017)

  • Nearly 30 states collect DNA samples from felony arrest suspects to aid in solving violent crime. Indiana should be the next in line to join these forward thinking states.


Decades-Old Mystery Solved (Grand Haven Tribune – 2/4/2017)

  • Old case files in basement storage combined with new technology and renewed efforts in a John Doe case have resulted in the identification of a man with ties to Grand Haven who was killed by a train near Cleveland, Ohio, in 1980.


Police: DNA Leads to Arrest in Strangling of NYC Jogger (USA Today – 2/5/2017)

  • DNA evidence, some of it matching what was found beneath the victim’s fingernails, led investigators to make an arrest in last summer’s strangling of a woman who encountered her killer while on an evening run, police said Sunday.


Forensic DNA Profiling Might be About to Take a Big Leap Forward. Are We Ready? (The Guardian – 2/6/2017)

  • Advances in epigenetics mean incredibly detailed profiles of criminal suspects might soon be reality. Is the legal system ready to use this information?


What Happens to Unidentified Remains After Case Goes Cold? (Riverhead News-Review – 2/6/2017)

  • Since 1969, nearly 1,300 sets of unidentified remains have been discovered in New York State, according to the National Institute of Justice’s National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. Of these, 27 were found in Suffolk County, including three in Manorville, one in Riverhead and one on Plum Island.


Man Exonerated Based on DNA Mixture After Serving 16 Years (Forensic Magazine – 2/6/2017)

  • Two men who served decades behind bars for a brutal 1989 gang rape have both been released and exonerated, based on complex DNA mixture interpretation.


The Tale of the Abandoned Girls’ DNA that Led to a Notorious Cold Case (Forensic Magazine – 2/7/2017)

  • Forensic Magazine spoke with the detectives from multiple agencies who broke open the infamous Bear Brook Murders cold case in New Hampshire in January. The following is a narrative explaining how one determined California deputy’s work led to a DNA discovery, which was picked up by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s team of experts, which in turn allowed a group of New Hampshire cops to make an on-the-ground push to identify a long-lost killer.


Police Turn to DNA Phenotyping as Experts Attempt to Put a Face on Crime (The Denver Channel – 2/7/2017)

  • More police using new technology, but is it ready?


Familial DNA Bill Passes NY State Senate (Metro – 2/7/2017)

  • Legislation has passed in the state Senate that would allow New York to use familial DNA, a test that Karina Vetrano’s parents were pushing for in their effort to help solve her brutal rape and murder.


New Standards Set for Forensic Testing of Rape Victims (BBC News – 2/8/2017)

  • New forensic standards are to be introduced to improve examinations of victims of sexual violence.


New FBI Wanted App: Making it Easier to Find Fugitives and Missing Persons (Forensic Magazine – 2/8/2017)

  • You’re watching your local news on TV when you see a story on a wanted fugitive in your community. The person looks like someone you’ve seen living a few blocks away. You grab your cellphone, open the FBI Wanted app, search your city name and quickly locate the individual’s profile with additional pictures and information. The similarity is striking. So you tap the “Call the FBI” button in the app and report what you know.


Serial Killers Should Fear this Algorithm (Bloomberg – 2/8/2017)

  • Thomas Hargrove is building software to identify trends in unsolved murders using data nobody’s bothered with before.


Phoenix Police Use DNA Composite to Try to Help Solve 2005 Cold Case (AZ Central – 2/8/2017)

  • The technology uses DNA samples to generate facial composites with likely features. Police are using it to find a mother who discarded a newborn at the airport.


Forensic Experts to Solve 270-Year-Old Mystery of Clan Chief “The Fox” (Scotsman – 2/9/2017)

  • A top forensics expert has been called in to solve a 270-year-old mystery over the final resting place of a clan chief beheaded after the Battle of Culloden