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 Golden State Killer Case has Spawned a New Forensic Science Industry (BuzzFeed News – 2/15/2019)

  • One company has already solved more than 30 cold cases through genetic genealogy. Now the biggest forensic DNA firm in the US is getting involved.


Where There’s a Quill: CSI Uses DNA to Catch Echidna Smugglers (The Canberra Times – 2/16/2019)

  • Wildlife forensic scientists at the Australian Museum in Sydney have developed a tool kit that will track the source of black market echidnas by analysing mitochondrial DNA in an animal’s quill.


Emerging DNA Technique Leads to Arrest in 1993 Murder of Woman Found in Dorm Bathtub (CBS News – 2/18/2019)

  • Investigators in Alaska have used a controversial new DNA technique to arrest a Maine man in the 1993 murder of a woman found slain in a bathtub at a University of Alaska Fairbanks residence hall.



Virginia Passes Bill to Help Courts Get Forensic Evidence Quicker (Bluefield Daily Telegraph – 2/19/2019)

  • Sponsored by state Sen. Ben Chafin (R-Southwest Virginia), the bill will create a partnership between Virginia pharmacy schools and the Department of Forensics to conduct analysis.


Familial Hit in Truck Stop Slayings Links Back to Unprosecuted 1997 Rape (Forensic Magazine – 2/19/2019)

  • In 1997, the truck driver was suspected of raping a 17-year-old girl, who was willing to testify. The DNA backed up the teenager’s accusations. But the case was not prosecuted by authorities in Medina County, Ohio.

    Decades later, a series of homicides led investigators to use familial searching, or FS, in DNA criminal databases to find a potential serial killer. That investigative tool led to Samuel Legg III—and his DNA from the 1997 rape investigation, still in the possession of authorities, 22 years later.



The Lab Discovering DNA in Old Books (The Atlantic – 2/19/2019)

  • In recent years, archaeologists and historians have awakened to the potential of ancient DNA extracted from human bones and teeth. But Collins isn’t just interested in human remains. He’s interested in the things these humans made; the animals they bred, slaughtered, and ate; and the economies they created.


Woman Whose Daughter was Raped, Murdered Pursues Law Changes in NC (CBS 17 – 2/19/2019)


Advanced DNA Technology Could Reveal Who is “Apache Junction Jane Doe” (FOX 10 – 2/19/2019)

  • In August 1992, a teenaged girl was found dead in Apache Junction, and it was a cold case that has puzzled police for well over two decades. Now, however, police have a powerful new tool at their disposal, as advanced DNA technology may help identify the so-called “Apache Junction Jane Doe”.


Suspect Caught in 1973 Newport Beach Murder of 11-Year-Old Girl Thanks to DNA Evidence (CBS Los Angeles – 2/20/2019)

  • Genealogical DNA has lead to the arrest of a Colorado man in the abduction, sexual assault and killing of an 11-year-old girl in Newport Beach more than four decades ago.


AAFS ‘Bring Your Own Slides’: Animal Sperm, Cattle-Gun Suicide, Vitamin K Shortage and More (Forensic Magazine – 2/20/2019)

  • From synthetic pot that made users bleed uncontrollably, to gorilla sperm examined under a microscope, to a suspect out in the desert kicking a human skull around “like a soccer ball,” Wednesday night’s “Bring Your Own Slides” (BYOS) session at the 71st Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences featured a range of unique cases and research projects.