This Week in Forensic Science – ISHI News

Mar 02 2017

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!


This week in forensic science header

New Research on Rape Kit Processing Sees Improvements (Forensic Magazine – 2/24/2017)

  • Nearly one year ago, in a press conference at BYU, Valentine spoke to a room full of media about the results of her groundbreaking study, looking at the processing of 1,874 sexual assault kits, commonly called rape kits, in seven Utah counties between 2010 and 2013. This was the most comprehensive study ever conducted on sexual assault kits in the United States.


Biologists Propose to Sequence the DNA of All Life on Earth (Science – 2/24/2017)

  • Yesterday, at a meeting here organized by the Smithsonian Initiative on Biodiversity Genomics and the Shenzhen, China–based sequencing powerhouse BGI, a small group of researchers upped the ante even more, announcing their intent to, eventually, sequence “all life on Earth.”


Vanessa Marcotte Case: New DNA Technology Could Help Solve Jogger’s Slaying (CBS News – 2/24/2017)

  • The highly-specialized DNA technology that investigators used to create a profile of a person of interest in the killing of Vanessa Marcotte could mean the difference between solving a crime and a cold case, CBS Boston reports.


Forensic Commission Backs Blood Work from Shuttered APD Lab (KVUE – 2/24/2017)

  • The Texas Forensic Science Commission is backing the blood work done by the closed Austin crime lab.


North Jersey Marine Missing in Vietnam Identified Through DNA ( – 2/25/2017)


Scientists Zero in on DNA in Hair Samples With Extraordinary Accuracy (CBS SF Bay Area – 2/26/2017)

  • Hair is your crowning glory and soon, thanks to scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Lab, it will provide the evidence necessary to tie you definitively to a crime.


Humans 2.0: These Geneticists Want to Create an Artificial Genome by Synthesising our DNA (Wired – 2/26/2017)

  • Scientists intend to have fully synthesised the genome in a living cell – which would make the material functional – within ten years, at a projected cost of $1 billion


Supreme Court Weighs Law Banning Sex Offenders from Facebook (Forensic Magazine – 2/27/2017)

  • Now the Supreme Court’s task is deciding whether the law, meant to prevent communications between sex offenders and minors via social media, is so broad that it violates the Constitution’s free-speech protections.


Who is ‘Baby Sarah’? Police Use DNA to Help Solve 42-Year-Old Cold Case (Fox News – 2/27/2017)

  • Now, 42 years later, police have exhumed the remains of the child — named “Baby Sarah” — to create a DNA profile that might solve a mystery haunting the town of Waukesha for decades: Who are Sarah’s parents, and what led to her death inside a sewer hours after her birth?


Forensic ‘Body Farm’ Opens in Florida – Becomes Seventh in US (Science – 2/28/2017)

  • A new forensic “body farm” is finally in the works in the state of Florida — just the seventh human decomposition research program in the United States. The state-of-the-art facility will include body donation, but will also serve as a training ground for K9, ballistics and remote sensing, among other cutting-edge forensic techniques.


Why Nobody Remembers the Forefather of Forensic Science (Smithsonian – 2/28/2017)

  • Wilmer Souder was a hidden pioneer of a still developing field


LCSO Detectives Hope New Info Leads to Cold Case Death ID (Albany Democrat-Herald – 2/28/2017)

  • An unidentified homicide victim found by a hunter in October 2006 near the Big Spring Snow Park in far eastern Linn County probably lived for a brief time in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana or Florida, according to new information acquired by the Linn County Sheriff’s Office.


Widow’s Words Help Unveil New Florida Forensic Institute (Forensic Magazine – 2/28/2017)

  • The Florida Forensic Institute for Research, Security and Tactical Training (FIRST) facility is to be built on a tract of land off U.S. Highway 41 near the Pasco County Jail, according to a Monday press conference—one that featured a surprise guest speaker.


How Machine Learning is Changing Crime-Solving Tactics (Lab Manager – 2/28/2017)

  • Modern forensic DNA analyses are crucial to crime scene investigations; however the interpretation of the DNA profiles can be complex. Two researchers from the Forensics and National Security Sciences Institute (FNSSI) have turned to computer technology to assist complicated profile interpretation, specifically when it comes to samples containing DNA from multiple people.


Checking on the Status of Untested Rape Kits in Florida (Firstcoast News – 2/28/2017)

  • The Florida Department of Law Enforcement took a look at the backlog throughout the state of rape kits in Florida. Their report from last year says it will take between $9 and 32 million to test old kits. It will take 3 to 9 years for the testing to happen.


Rape Kit Backlog Still a Problem in the Coastal Empire (WALB10 – 2/28/2017)

  • GBI investigators in Savannah are taking us behind the scenes, showing the real reason thousands of rape kits in Georgia remain backlogged after lawmakers passed legislation requiring all kits be processed by the GBI.


British Miniseries Documents the Life Story of DNA (Forensic Magazine – 3/1/2017)

  • Code of a Killer, a British miniseries that premiered on streaming service Acorn TV for North American viewing on Feb. 27, chronicles the history of this technology and the breakthrough case that popularized it, exploring both the science of DNA fingerprinting and the legacy of those who spearheaded its discovery and application.