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!




Brutal Killing of a Mother and Son in 1994 is Solved through DNA Evidence, Police Say (Forensic – 2/17/2022)

  • More than 27 years after a woman and her son were killed in a Seattle suburb, authorities have charged a man in their deaths.

    Jerome Frank Jones, 51, has been charged with aggravated murder in the 1994 deaths of Stacy Falcon-Dewey, 23, and her 3-year-old son, Jacob Dewey, in Renton, Washington, according to the documents filed Tuesday.

    Jones is currently imprisoned for murdering a man in 1995 in California, prosecuting attorney Jessica Berliner said. Online records show he is not eligible for parole in that state until 2030.



Authorities Launch Crowdfunding Effort to Crack Cold-Case Baby Murder from 1980 in Luzerne County (The Morning Call – 2/17/2022)

  • Pennsylvania State Police and Luzerne County prosecutors on Wednesday announced a crowdfunding effort to fund DNA testing they hope will crack the cold-case murder of an infant found in the community of Larksville more than 41 years ago.


Remains of Virginia Teen Identified After Grim Discovery in 1990 (NBC4 Washington – 2/18/2022)

  • More than 30 years after a teenager’s skull was found near a road in Stafford County, Virginia, officials say the late teen has been identified through DNA analysis and genealogical research.

    Human remains found in 1990 are those of Timothy Alan Mangum, the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office said Friday.

    Mangum attended schools in Chesapeake and Norfolk in the early ‘80s and had not had contact with his family for several years prior to 1990, the sheriff’s office said.


DNA Leads to Arrest in Texas Cold Case 38 Years After Slaying (NBC News – 2/19/2022)

  • A man has been arrested in the 38-year-old cold case slaying of a woman in Dallas, Texas, with help from the same DNA technology used to catch California’s notorious “Golden State Killer,” prosecutors said.

    Edward Morgan, 60, was arrested Friday and faces a charge of capital murder in the death of Mary Jane Thompson, Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot said in a statement Friday.


How I Made It: ‘I’m a Forensic Scientist Specializing in Tattoo Analysis’ (METRO – 2/19/2022)

  • This week in How I Made It,’s weekly career series, we’re talking to Professor Michelle Miranda, PhD – and she has a job like no other.

    She’s worked in the forensic science scene since 1999, long before ‘the “CSI” television craze that sparked a mass interest in forensic science and crime scene investigations,’ as she puts it.

    Now in her early 40s and working just outside of New York city, Michelle has earned her stripes as an expert in all things forensics – especially when it comes to the analysis of tattoos.


Woman’s Remains Found in Trinity Bellwoods Park in 2020 Identified (DNA Doe Project – 2/22/2022)

  • In June, 2020, an early morning walker discovered the body of a woman in a grassy area in Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto. She was pronounced dead at the scene, but Toronto police were unable to identify her as she had very few possessions with her. The case quickly went cold. In January of the following year, Detective Constable Mike Kelly brought the case to the DNA Doe Project for help learning her name, and the case was solved in partnership with the Toronto Police. Her family has requested her name be withheld and their privacy respected.

    A DNA sample from the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service was sent for whole genome sequencing and bioinformatics to create a DNA profile that could be uploaded to GEDmatch. When DNA Doe Project’s volunteer investigative genetic genealogists began work on the family tree for this Jane Doe, they found a number of good matches in the database. In less than a week, they had zeroed in on the identity of the woman.


State Police Hope Cold Case Playing Cards Will Generate New Leads (Forensic – 2/23/2022)

  • When you flip over the 8 of clubs in this card deck, you don’t just see eight plant leaves. Rather, it’s a photo of a smiling Andy Puglisi, a 10-year-old boy with dark hair and dark eyes who has not been seen since Aug. 21, 1976.

    This card is a part of a newly released deck from the Massachusetts State Police (MSP) that features 52 cold cases the Unresolved Cases Unit is hoping to generate new leads for. In a video earlier this month, MSP’s Col. Christopher Mason debuted the cards, imploring the public to look through the deck and come forward with information pertaining to any of the cases.


Investigators Name Deceased Deputy as Suspect in 1983 Murder of 11-Year-Old Girl (Forensic – 2/23/2022)

  • The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office has closed a 1983 cold case involving the homicide of then 11-year-old Lora Ann Huizar. Based on information obtained during the investigation, detectives have named former deputy James Howard Harrison as the only probable suspect in this case. The sheriff’s office is unable to pursue charges against Harrison due to the suspect’s death in 2008.



Detectives Solve 25-Year-Old Cold Case Weeks After Suspect Dies (Forensic – 2/23/2022)

  • On July 15, 1996, 32-year-old Michelle Marie Veal’s nude body was found on the side of the road by a survey crew working in the area of Stony Point Road, north of West Railroad Avenue in unincorporated Sonoma County. The autopsy showed Veal had multiple skull fractures and a broken neck, consistent with blunt force head trauma. At the time of the murder, evidence was collected, and Violent Crime detectives conducted an extensive investigation; all leads were exhausted. Despite their best efforts, the investigation went cold.

    In April 2021, detectives resubmitted evidence for review to the Serological Research Institute (SERI) for biological testing using today’s current technology.

    On Jan. 18, 2022, the Department of Justice notified Violent Crime detectives of a CODIS Hit due to the DNA evidence submitted to the laboratory. SERI laboratory had developed a DNA profile from the evidence that had been submitted. A DNA match came back to that of Jack Alexander Bokin.


DNA Labs International is the First Accredited Lab to use ForenSeq® Kintelligence System to Aid in the Identification of Unidentifed Remains (PR Web – 2/23/2022)

  • Unidentified remains from a cold case with the Oregon State Police has officially been confirmed as Kenneth W. Heasley, thanks in part to DNA Labs International’s newest forensic genetic genealogy (FGG) technology, the ForenSeq® Kintelligence Kit.

    In 1998, Kenneth W. Heasley and Gary A. Gelsinger were out fishing when a witness reportedly saw their boat capsize and go out to sea. Gelsinger’s remains washed ashore a month later with his identification card in his pocket, but Heasley’s remains were not found or identified, until now.

    In 2020, DNA Labs International received a molar from the Oregon State Police Medical Examiner’s Office. Scientists were able to obtain a small amount of DNA using a demineralization coupled with organic extraction. The quantity of DNA was not suitable for array-based testing. In 2022, targeted sequencing with the ForenSeq® Kintelligence Kit was employed to produce a profile for genealogy research. The profile was uploaded into GEDmatch PRO™ and returned potential matches used to build out the family tree. The unidentified remains were determined to likely be Heasley, and STR testing of a buccal swab from a relative confirmed the molar was indeed Heasley’s.



Africa’s Oldest DNA is Helping Address Science’s Racial Bias (WIRED – 2/23/2022)

  • Scientists have way more DNA from ancient Europeans than Africans. Now analysis of a genome from nearly 20,000 years ago is answering questions about the continent’s past.