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!




The Coldest Case Solved with Forensic Genealogy (KFGO – 2/10/2020)

  • A missing woman turns up murdered, a professional clown is the primary suspect, and it takes half a century to solve the crime.



Women Dominate in the Forensic Science Field (CGTN America – 2/11/2020)

  • The latest U.S. government figures show that just 29% of Americans working in science and engineering are women. But in one field of study, they make up the majority – forensic science.


DHS Commences Pilot Project to Collect DNA from Certain Travelers (JDSUPRA – 2/11/2020)

  • This announcement has prompted questions from Canadians (and other foreign nationals), who are concerned that they may be required to provide a sample of their DNA when travelling to the United States. Although privacy advocates are concerned about this mandatory collection of DNA, the pilot project, as it presently stands, may not be a significant departure from current practices.


When Did Ancient Humans Begin to Understand Death? (Discover – 2/11/2020)

  • For decades, Durham University archaeologist Paul Pettitt has studied sites of possible funerary rituals. Based on this work, he’s concluded that what we recognize today as funerary customs evolved over time from humbler behaviors, including those seen in other animals.


Senate Bill Would Require DNA Testing for all Felony Arrests (The Neighbor – 2/11/2020)

  • Thirty states, including Missouri, require DNA to be collected and tested for those arrested or charged with violent crimes, according to research by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Only 18 states require DNA collection for all felonies, Sepich said.


Genetic Genealogy Technology Leads to the Arrest of Cincinnati-Area ‘Serial Rapist’ (WLWT5 – 2/11/2020)

  • “The power of genetic genealogy is the ability to narrow down the potential pull of suspects,” said CeCe Moore, the chief genetic genealogist at Parabon NanoLabs. “The easiest way to say it is that we are reverse-engineering the family tree of the suspect based on his DNA alone and who he’s sharing DNA with.”



‘Ghost’ DNA in West Africans Complicates Story of Human Origins (NPR – 2/12/2020)

  • About 50,000 years ago, ancient humans in what is now West Africa apparently procreated with another group of ancient humans that scientists didn’t know existed.

    There aren’t any bones or ancient DNA to prove it, but researchers say the evidence is in the genes of modern West Africans. They analyzed genetic material from hundreds of people from Nigeria and Sierra Leone and found signals of what they call “ghost” DNA from an unknown ancestor.



If the UK Cares About Justice, it Must Fund Forensic Services Properly – Opinion (The Guardian – 2/13/2020)

  • Budget cuts in England and Wales have reduced independent oversight – and could lead to serious miscarriages of justice



Genealogy May Exonerate California Man Convicted of 1985 Murder (CBS This Morning – 2/13/2020)

  • A California man who was convicted of a murder nearly 15 years ago is expected to be exonerated Thursday. Genealogy may have led police to the real killer of a 54-year-old newspaper columnist in 1985, a law enforcement source familiar with the case told CBS News.


NYPD Shopping Changes to Controversial Methods used to Collect and Keep DNA Samples of Suspects (NY Daily News – 2/14/2020)

  • The NYPD is quietly shopping a change to how it collects and keeps DNA samples of suspects ahead of an upcoming City Council hearing — even as critics charge it isn’t going far enough to amend its more controversial tactics, the daily News has learned.