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!
A Maine man has been convicted in the 1993 killing of a 20-year-old woman at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. A jury found Steven Downs, 47, of Auburn, guilty of murder and sexual assault in the death of Sophie Sergie. A break in the case occurred in 2018 when genetic genealogist CeCe Moore, of Virginia-based Parabon Nanolabs, connected crime scene DNA to the profile of Downs’ aunt who lived in Vermont.
A tip from a Georgia sheriff’s office has helped the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office (N.C.) bring closure to a 50-year-old triple homicide case that occurred in Boone on Feb. 3, 1972, known locally as the Durham Case.Bryce Durham, 51, his wife Virginia, 44, and son Bobby, 18, were found brutally murdered in their home during a snowstorm. Troy Hall, the Durham’s son-in law, now deceased, found the family deceased after he and his wife—the Durhams’ daughter, Ginny—went to check on the family with the help of a neighbor.
The Gwinnett County Medical Examiner’s Office (GCMEO) announced that the human remains found in a storm basin on Craig Drive in Lawrenceville, Georgia in 2003 were identified as those of Gordon D. Rexrode. GCMEO and DNA Doe Project (DDP) partnered to use DNA and genealogy to identify the remains in the nineteen-year-old cold case that became known as Gwinnett Co John Doe 2003.
The AFP will mark this International Women and Girls in Science Day by showcasing dedicated female members using science and technology to keep Australians safe.
At the helm is AFP Chief Forensic Scientist Sarah Benson, who was at the forefront of developing a new explosives analysis capability in 2000, which positioned the AFP to work alongside Australian and international counterparts in the aftermath of the tragic Bali bombings 20 years ago.
Across the globe, endangered species are at risk for illegal poaching. African elephants are sought out for their ivory, rhinoceros for their singular horns, and armadillo-like pangolins for their protective, brittle scales. Add to that list valuable and environmentally sensitive trees illegally harvested throughout the world where entire ecosystems are being deforested and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing that is devastating oceans. These illicit markets, estimated at $1 trillion annually, cause enormous environmental impacts and have the potential to unleash new, deadly pathogens.
Now, a group of University of Washington professors is leading an effort to combat these crimes. The UW’s Center for Environmental Forensic Science is a unique interdisciplinary collaboration of researchers; state, federal and international law enforcement agencies; nongovernmental organizations; and the private sector that aims to disrupt and dismantle transnational organized environmental crimes.
Police in Eugene, Oregon, have solved a serial killer cold case from the 1980s involving three murdered women, thanks to genetic genealogy.Police say John Charles Bolsinger, born Sept. 17, 1957, is suspected in the murder of Gladys May Hensley, 62. Hensley’s body was discovered during a welfare check on June 5, 1986, by an apartment building employee after she had not been seen for several days. The investigation revealed that she had been killed the previous day.
Bolsinger was identified using the new technology – along with extensive follow-up and additional evidence, according to Eugene Police.
In May 2004, the body of an unidentified man was found in a grassy area off exit 7, eastbound I-40 in Haywood County, North Carolina.
The unidentified man was described as caucasian, with black hair, brown eyes, and a mustache and goatee. He stood at 6’1 and was 123 lbs at the time of death. He was believed to be between the ages of 25-40 years old at the time of death.
Investigators are taking another step in their efforts to solve a cold case involving the homicide of a baby boy. State police say they need the public’s help to solve the case 42 years later.
Baby Boy John Doe was found in a landfill in Larksville in 1980. Because of advances in technology, in 2016, a DNA sample was collected from the remains. While other attempts to determine the baby’s DNA have failed, state police believe a company called Othram Inc. from Texas has the technology to identify it.
A bill that aims to set ground rules for how police access genealogical DNA websites is in limbo after pushback.
Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, is sponsoring House Bill 340, which lets law enforcement request DNA data submitted to third-party sites if it may be relevant to their search for a crime suspect. The bill is facing opposition because it doesn’t explicitly demand a warrant and some fear police can go on “fishing expeditions” for anyone’s DNA that was innocently submitted as part of family history searches.
USF forensic anthropologists presented their findings of a two-year study commissioned by the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners to identify the locations of unmarked cemeteries on county property.
Erin Kimmerle, executive director of the Florida Institute of Forensic Anthropology & Applied Science at USF, told the Hillsborough County Board her team found 45 unmarked cemeteries and burial grounds, two of which are located on Hillsborough County property: the Lewis Family Cemetery in Lithia and the 1916 Platt Map Cemetery near Carney Memorial in Valrico.
In March 1982, a young woman’s body was discovered near 420 North Plankinton Avenue by an off duty Wauwatosa firefighter. The woman was floating between two metal barrels that were tied to a nearby pier in the Milwaukee River. She was described as an African American woman, with brown eyes and black hair that had featured a reddish tint. At the time of death, she was estimated to be between 15-25 years old. She might have been in the river for as long as three months before she was found.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS? SUBSCRIBE TO THE ISHI BLOG BELOW!