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!




AAFS 2019 Notebook: Scientific Sessions from Genealogy to Spree Killers (Forensic Magazine – 2/22/2019)

  • From the historic new breakthroughs in criminal investigation made by genetic genealogy, to the traditional nitty-gritty trace evidence found in the bodies of the dead, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences annual conference brought together detection and research techniques of the present, and future, at its packed Thursday scientific sessions.


California Governor Orders New DNA Testing in 35-Year-Old Murder Case that Put Inmate on Death Row at San Quentin (ABC News – 2/23/2019)

  • California’s governor has ordered new DNA tests on evidence from a death row inmate’s 35-year-old murder conviction — which the inmate has said will exonerate him. The inmate maintains he was framed in the 1980s by homicide investigators.


Investigators Solve 1970s Cold Cases with Emerging DNA Technique (CBS News – 2/25/2019)

  • Investigators in El Dorado County, California, have identified the same man as the killer of a young woman in 1977 and a teen girl in 1979 using an emerging DNA technique that relies on genealogy databases



Old Precedents Too Often Overrule New Forensic Science Insights, Judge Says (ABC News – 2/25/2019)

  • According to Senior U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff, at the Southern District of New York, “Forensic science continues to be routinely admitted by the courts, both state and federal, even though considerable doubts have now been raised as to whether forensic science really is science at all, and whether it is reliable and valid.”


He Won $21 Million After 39 Years Wrongly Locked Up. He Has One Cop to Thank for Freeing Him. (Duluth News Tribune – 2/25/2019)

  • Mike Bender had spent a dozen years working his way up the ladder at the Simi Valley Police Department when he decided to break ranks.



Scientists Successfully Double the DNA Alphabet (Smithsonian Magazine – 2/25/2019)

  • “Hachimoji DNA” is structurally sound, offers new possibilities for data storage and raises questions about the molecular makeup potential alien life


A Long Handshake Can Spread Your DNA to Objects You Didn’t Touch (Science News – 2/26/2019)


New DNA Testing Could Reveal True Identity of Rock County Remains Found in 1995 (Channel 3000 – 2/26/2019)


Kansas Bill Would Create ‘Closed Case Task Force’ (Forensic Magazine – 2/27/2019)


A $100 Genome Within Reach, Illumina CEO Asks If World is Ready (Bloomberg – 2/27/2019)

  • For years, the cost to decode a full human genome has been falling much like computer processing costs — from hundreds of thousands of dollars per person to about $1,000 today. With a $100 genome getting closer, the CEO of the top maker of DNA sequencers thinks the world may not be ready.



These Twins Have Strange Semi-Identical DNA, in Only the Second Case Ever Discovered (Sciencealert – 2/28/2019)

  • The twins each received a jumble of DNA from dad, but the genes they’ve inherited from mum are 100 percent identical. Not only is there only one other such case known, but this pair were the first to be detected before they were born.



Is DNA Left on Envelopes Fair Game for Testing? (The Atlantic – 3/1/2019)

  • Stray genetic material could be co-opted for secret paternity tests, celebrity DNA profiles, and other questionable uses.