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!




Forensic Genealogy Group Helps Cumberland County Investigators Crack 21-Year-Old Cold Case (ABC 11 – 2/21/2020)

  • Bode Technology, the largest private DNA forensic lab in the country based out of Virginia helped the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office solve the case. Cumberland County investigators said ‘forensic genealogy’ led to the arrest of the baby’s mother.



Man Pleads Guilty in 1980 Murder for Colorado’s First Conviction through Genealogy Testing (Denver ABC 7 – 2/21/2020)

  • A Florida man has pleaded guilty in the 1980 killing of a young woman in Douglas County in what is believed to be the first conviction in Colorado resulting from a new investigative technique that uses genealogical research to identify killers through their relatives.


‘Environmental DNA’ Lets Scientists Probe Underwater Life (WIRED – 2/21/2020)

  • With the help of a new kind of drone, marine biologists can sequence DNA found in the ocean to reveal what’s living in an ecosystem—and what’s missing.

‘They Lied to Us’: Mom Says Police Deceived Her to Get Her DNA and Charge Her Son With Murder (NBC News – 2/22/2020)

  • A murder case raises the question: Is it OK for police to lie to get an innocent person’s DNA?


Scott Bell: Deeply Conflicted by Questions of DNA Data Privacy (The Salt Lake Tribune – 2/23/2020)

Investigative Genetic Genealogy Firm Innovative Forensic DNA Selects Intermountain Forensics as Lab Services Provider (Inside Nova – 2/24/2020)

  • Innovative Forensic DNA has selected Intermountain Forensics as their lab services provider. Intermountain Forensics is the country’s first nonprofit forensic DNA lab, dedicated to bridging the gap between public and private labs.



‘Never Say Die’: Genetic Sleuths Rediscover Extinct Species (The New York Times – 2/24/2020)

  • The rediscovery of an insect in Wales hints at environmental DNA sampling’s potential to change endangered species protection.



Anonymous No More: Combining Genetics with Genealogy to Identify the Dead in Unmarked Graves (ScienceDaily – 2/24/2020)

  • A method developed by a team of geneticists, archaeologists and demographers may make it possible to identify thousands of individuals whose remains lie in unmarked graves.



New DNA Testing Could Help California’s Missing Persons, Cold Case Investigations (NBC Bay Area – 2/25/2020)

  • Law enforcement investigators and the families of missing people stand to benefit from a new DNA testing breakthrough announced this week by the California Department of Justice.

    The new testing technology allows crime lab technicians to fully sequence mitochondrial DNA, which makes it easier to test samples from human remains that have decayed beyond the point at which current DNA testing is generally effective.



Ancient DNA from Sardinia Unlocks 6,000 Years of Genetic History (Technology Networks – 2/25/2020)

  • A new study of the genetic history of Sardinia, a Mediterranean island off the western coast of Italy, tells how genetic ancestry on the island was relatively stable through the end of the Bronze Age, even as mainland Europe saw new ancestries arrive.



Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team Documenting Human Rights Violations Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize (Global Voices – 2/25/2020)


The Wear Patterns of Your Jeans Aren’t Good Forensic Evidence (Ars Technica – 2/25/2020)

  • A paper published in PNAS this week puts denim-pattern analysis through its paces, finding that it isn’t particularly good at matching up identical pairs of jeans—and may create a number of “false alarm” errors to boot.



Geneanet, the Leading Genealogy Website in Europe, Launches Its DNA Matching Service (Biospace – 2/25/2020)

  • This new beta DNA matching service allows everyone to upload the raw data of a DNA test kit taken from any company, and to compare it to other Geneanet members’ DNA data for finding new relatives.



FDLE, Leon County Sheriff’s Office Unveil Nation’s First Automated Rapid DNA Collection (Wink News – 2/26/2020)

  • Florida is one of five states selected by the FBI to participate in the project and the only one to use a fully automated process. The technology was approved by the FBI earlier this year.

    The FBI will use date from those pilot programs to establish national standards for Rapid DNA.



Suspect in Mother, Son Double Murder Identified through Genealogy Databases (ABC News – 2/26/2020)

  • A man was arrested this week in the double slaying of an 85-year-old woman and her son — and authorities say they found the suspect through DNA and genealogy databases.