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!




DNA Links Southern California Man to 1981 Killings of 2 Women: “This Suspect Has Been Hiding in Plain Sight for Over 40 Years” (CBS News – 2/10/2023)

    • A Southern California man was charged Thursday with killing two women in 1981 after DNA evidence linked him to the crimes, prosecutors announced Thursday. Tony Garcia, 68, of Oxnard appeared in court but his arraignment was continued to Feb. 23, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. Garcia, a Navy veteran and former martial arts teacher, is accused of kidnapping, raping and strangling Rachel Zendejas, 20, in Camarillo in January 1981 and strangling 21-year-old Lisa Gondek in Oxnard in December 1981.



How Investigative Genetic Genealogy Helped to Solve Decades-Old Windsor Homicide (CTVNews – 2/10/2023)

  • An American genetics genealogy lab based in Virginia is praising a recent decision by the Windsor Police Service to name the person responsible for the murder of a six-year-old Windsor girl over 50 years ago.

    Earlier this week, Windsor police said Frank Arthur Hall was the person who killed Ljubica Topic in 1971.

    Authorities initially declined to name the now deceased Hall as the individual who murdered Topic, citing the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, but later said new police leadership reexamined and ultimately overturned that decision.


Flagler County Using DNA, Genealogy in Effort to ID Remains of Woman Found 30 Years Ago (News4 JAX – 2/10/2023)

  • A young woman whose remains were first discovered in the woods in Flagler County just over 30 years ago is still unidentified, and the Sheriff’s Office is using new technology to try to bring closure to her family.

    The woman’s skeletal remains were first found Jan. 10, 1993, when two young boys chased a basketball into the woods at the end of their cul-de-sac on Sea Ship Place.

    Through investigative genetic genealogy (IGG) research, Othram was able to establish the woman was a descendant of George Washington Coleman and Clarissa Minnick from the Edgefield/Aiken, South Carolina area. At least 30 relatives have been contacted from the extensive family tree, but so far, her identity remains unknown.



Documents: Serial Rapist Identified Through Genealogy Website was Targeting Girls ( – 2/10/2023)

  • A man accused of sexually assaulting girls in two states over multiple decades was sentenced Friday to 19 years in an Ohio prison, although he still faces charges in Kentucky.

    Authorities in Hamilton County charged William Blankenship with sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl, a 14-year-old girl and a woman between 1999 and 2001. The attacks happened in the area of Mount Washington and Anderson Township, within a two-mile radius, officials said.


Remains Identified as Rancher Lost Crossing River During 1964 Flood (Forensic – 2/13/2023)

    • In March 1989, the remains of a skeletonized human body were discovered by a rafting group on the Sherman County side of the John Day River. Then-Sheriff Gerald Lohrey and additional Sherman County Sheriff’s Office deputies launched a jet boat at Cottonwood Bridge, approximately 13 miles east of Wasco, and recovered the incomplete skeletal remains.

      In addition to many long bones that had been half-buried in silt on the riverbank, a skull was collected with dental work. The discovery of the body made local headlines, but nothing was immediately known about the deceased. The remains were transported to the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office (SMEO) for examination.

      In April 2022, the SMEO recognized the effectiveness of investigative genetic genealogy on cold unidentified remains cases and submitted an additional bone sample to Othram, a private DNA lab that specializes in advanced forensic DNA testing. The skeletal remains were not productive in previous attempts when advanced DNA testing was attemped but using Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing and genetic genealogy, Othram was able to identify potential family members of the unidentified subject. The analysis revealed the name of two biological relatives of David West Jr. as being genetically associated with the remains.


DNA Under Young Man’s Fingernail Leads to Conviction More Than 4 Decades After Murder ( – 2/13/2023)

    • DNA found underneath a young mom’s broken fingernail has led to the conviction of a neighbor 40 years later.

      Last week, Michael Glazebrook, 67, was found guilty of first-degree murder with enhancements for using a deadly weapon and for committing rape in the death of 30-year-old Sonia Carmen Herok-Stone.

      The verdict comes 41 years after the former school bus driver was tried for the murder but not convicted after a jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict.


Lyon County Sheriff’s Office Teams with Othram to Identify 2017 Neosho Rapids John Doe (DNASolves – 2/13/2023)

    • In April 2017, the Lyon County Sheriff’s Department responded to a call that a skull had been found along the banks of the Neosho River following a period of recent rain in Lyon County, Kansas.

      In August 2017, details of the case were entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) as #UP16928. Over the past five and a half years, investigators have diligently worked to identify the Neosho Rapids, Kansas John Doe. However, the identity of the man remains unknown.

      In 2023, Lyon County Sheriff’s Department investigators partnered with Othram to determine if advanced forensic DNA testing will help to identify the man. Othram will work to develop a comprehensive DNA profile using Forensic Grade Genomic Sequencing®.



How an Amateur Genealogist from Tipperay Cracked Ireland’s Oldest Missing Persons Case (Independent – 2/14/2023)

    • The family of Noel Hardy waited more than 50 years to discover what happened to a Dubliner who vanished without a trace in 1967. Only when an amateur genealogist took up the case were they able to find the closure they sought. Noel’s missing person case – the oldest in the state – remained unsolved until his relatives finally vowed in 2011 to learn what happened to him.

      Noel’s family did all they could to solve the mystery while authorities in Ireland and the UK searched for clues. It was only when appeals in the media for information relating to Noel were heard by an amateur genealogist from Tipperary in 2019, did a major breakthrough emerge.



Delaware County Medical Examiner Office and Othram Partner to Identify 2022 Jane Doe (DNA Solves – 2/14/2023)

    • In March 2022, the decomposing remains of an unknown woman were found buried in a shallow grave in Deshong Park in Chester, Pennsylvania. Chester Police were notified by a local artist who was filming a movie in the park that a homeless man had approached him and said, “I know where a body is located.”

      Since the discovery of the unknown woman’s remains, law enforcement investigators have diligently pursued various leads, but the woman’s identity remains a mystery. In April 2022, the case was entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) as #UP90745.

      In 2023, the Delaware County Medical Examiner Office partnered with Othram to determine if advanced forensic DNA testing could help establish an identity for the woman or a close relative.


Forensic Sciences Research to be Published by Oxford University Press (EurekAlert! – 2/14/2023)

    • Forensic Sciences Research is a peer-reviewed open access journal sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Forensic Science (AFS). Publishing the latest research in various disciplines of forensic sciences, the journal aims to promote forensic sciences through quality Research Articles, Reviews, Case Reports, and Letters to Editors.



Parabon Sees Trend in Active Casework Use of Investigative Genetic Genealogy (IGG) (EIN Presswire – 2/15/2023)

    • Whether the motivation for the crime was love, lust, looting or loathing, Parabon’s investigative genetic genealogy (IGG) service has transformed the way violent criminal cases are investigated. To date, Parabon’s Snapshot® Advanced DNA Analysis Services (“Snapshot”), which includes IGG, has helped law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and Canada make positive identifications in over 260 cases — averaging approximately one per week since the IGG service was first offered in May 2018.



Cold Case Analysis Center Receives Funds for More Forensic Testing to Bring Closure to 1964 Murder (The College of Saint Rose – 2/8/2023)

    • The Cold Case Analysis Center at Saint Rose recently secured $9,700 from Seasons of Justice, a nonprofit that funds efforts to further the investigation of cold cases. The funding will go directly toward DNA evidence testing, as the Cold Case Analysis Center and Albany Police Department seek answers in the 58-year-old murder of Catherine Blackburn.



Decades Old Cold Case Breakthrough Because of Genetic Genealogy (KTVL10 – 2/15/2023)

    • The Josephine County Sheriff’s Office finally has a name for the human remains discovered on a property in the Quartz Creek area in 1986.

      According to officials, a homeowner discovered the skeletal human remains while putting in a new septic system on the property.

      In the gravesite, there was also fabric believed to be from a dress, a worn set of dentures, and two rubber items believed to be from a walker or crutches.

      Back then, detectives were unable to identify the deceased and sent the remains to the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office for further testing. The Sheriff’s Office says it believes the remains may have been in the ground for 15 to 20 years before being discovered. In 2018, the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office received a grant allowing it to send the remains to Parabon NanoLabs for further DNA and genetic genealogy testing.



Woman Found Buried in a Shallow Grave in 2015 Identified as Joyce A. Rodgers Annis (DNA Doe Project – 2/17/2023)

    • A Jane Doe unidentified woman found in a shallow grave near a walking trail north of Lone Mountain Cemetery in Carson City has been identified as Joyce A. Rodgers Annis, originally from Michigan.

      A hiker walking the Lone Mountain trail in Carson City noticed a shoe sticking out of the ground and alerted authorities, who found the buried body of a woman wrapped in a sleeping bag. They estimated she had died about a year before she was discovered.

      The Carson City Sheriff’s Office brought the case to the DNA Doe Project in 2019 to attempt investigative genetic genealogy in order to trace Jane Doe’s identity using her DNA matches to build her family tree. After a complex series of laboratory processes to extract DNA and translate it into a workable profile for comparison to the millions of records in the databases at and, volunteer investigative genetic genealogists got to work in May, 2020.

      Since research began, more than 13 volunteers have worked to connect the matches, with family trees going back to ancestors born in the mid 1700s in England. It took a little less than a year to narrow the search to a single family in the vast tree. Three of the six siblings were women, and this lead was offered to the investigating officers to follow up. Last October, a family member’s AncestryDNA test was uploaded to, a public database that can be used by law enforcement cases, and matched at the expected relationship to Joyce Rodgers.


Whatever Happened to Mary Agnes Moroney? DNA Tests Appear to Solve 1930s Mystery of Missing Chicago Girl (WBEZ Chicago – 2/18/2023)

    • What ever happened to Mary Agnes Moroney, the 2-year-old reportedly snatched away from her South Side family by a woman using the name Julia Otis on May 15, 1930?

      The case made national headlines in the 1930s and 1950s. But its solution eluded investigators — and Chicago newspaper reporters — for nearly a century. Mary Agnes’ nephew, 55-year-old Don Moroney of Downstate Flanagan, has been searching for it since he was in high school. Arnold said she was contacted in September by a Cook County detective, who had questions about Arnold’s late mother and asked if Arnold would be willing to take a DNA test. She told the Chicago Sun-Times this week that she’s since learned “my family is completely different from what I was always led to believe.”



Rutgers Signs Exclusive License to Market Innovative DNA Analysis Technology (New Jersey Business – 2/21/2023)

    • Rutgers Office for Research has signed an exclusive license with SoftGenetics, LLC for the company to commercialize innovative software technology developed by Rutgers-Camden professors Catherine Grgicak, PhD and Desmond Lun, PhD. The technology, called NOCIt, is a computational tool that calculates the probability of the number of contributors in a DNA profile.



Discarded Cigarette Butt, DNA Tests Solve 52-Year-Old Murder (ABC News – 2/21/2023)

    • A discarded cigarette found near the body of a 24-year-old Vermont school teacher in her apartment nearly 52 years ago helped lead investigators to an upstairs neighbor who they say strangled her after having a fight with his wife, police said Tuesday.

      Burlington Police DNA evidence collected from the cigarette butt and dogged investigative work led authorities to the man they say killed Rita Curran within a 70-minute window on a July night in 1971.



District Attorney Announces Arrest in 2013 Cold Case Sexual Assault (Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office – 2/21/2023)

    • Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Acton Chief of Police James Cogan announced today that, nine years after a young woman was sexually assaulted at knifepoint at a commuter rail station in Acton, an investigative breakthrough has resulted in the identification and arrest of Christopher Aldrich, 28, of Lunenberg.  He was arraigned today on the charge of Aggravated Rape in the Concord District Court. Judge Joseph Hurley ordered that the defendant be held without bail after a dangerousness hearing.



Foot Found in 2021 Identified as Belonging to Missing Woman (Forensic – 2/22/2023)

    • In December 2021, a shoe containing a foot was found near the mouth of the Elwha River in Port Angeles, Washington. The discovery was made by an individual who reported what he had observed to the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office. Investigators activated Search and Rescue in the area and recovered the shoe several hours later. Investigators observed that the shoe’s label was a woman’s size 8 New Balance brand shoe.

      In 2022, the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office partnered with Othram to determine if advanced forensic DNA testing could help establish an identity for the woman or a close relative. A DNASolves crowdfund was established to cover the casework costs. We are grateful to the community for the support on this case. Othram built a comprehensive genealogical profile and then Othram’s in-house genealogy team used the profile in genealogical research to produce investigative leads that were returned to the agency.



Dr. Denson Cao 2023 Spring Symposium – Decoding Forensic Investigative Genetic Genealogy (FIGG) (2/23/2023)

    • In just five short years, FIGG has helped generate investigative leads in hundreds of cases, many of which were decades old, and perhaps would have never been resolved without the use of this revolutionary new tool. The responsible use of FIGG in law enforcement investigations involves understanding how, where, and when it can be applied, the best practices to follow when using it, and of course, legal, ethical, and privacy considerations.

      During this full-day symposium, you will learn from law enforcement, forensic, and legal experts about:

      – the key concepts and workflow of FIGG,

      – current policies and best practices for using FIGG,

      – implementation strategies for law enforcement and forensic professionals,

      – the impact of FIGG in legal proceedings.

      The symposium will close with a panel discussion on the lessons learned since 2018 and a pathway forward for FIGG.