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 Evidence Solves Cold Case Death Dating Back to Early ’80s (CBS Minnesota – 12/20/2022)

    • In 1981, a highway worker found the remains of a man along Interstate 90 in Minnesota. The man’s identity remained a mystery until now.

      Louis Anthony Gattaino had been missing from Omaha, Nebraska since October 1971. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Rock County Sheriff’s Department were able to identify Gattaino’s remains using genealogy and DNA.

      Researchers from the Doe Network worked with a public genealogy database to identify a genetic connection to Gattaino’s family.



Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Pushes Use of Genealogical Testing for Unsolved Violent Crimes ( – 12/09/2022)

  • Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said Tuesday he will expand his office’s use of genealogical testing in unsolved violent crimes.

    O’Malley said he’ll use $250,000 from a fund that’s financed by seizures made by law enforcement in criminal and civil forfeitures to pay for the expansion. He also sent a callout to county police departments to submit DNA in unsolved cases.



STRmix™ v2.10 Adds New Features to Groundbreaking Forensic Software ( – 12/21/2022)

  • Following extensive technical development and testing, STRmix™ version 2.10 – the latest iteration of the breakthrough software used by forensic analysts to resolve mixed DNA profiles previously considered too complex to interpret – has been launched.

    Like its predecessors, the newest version of STRmix™ will enable forensic analysts to produce highly usable, interpretable, and admissible DNA results in a wide range of criminal cases, including violent crime, sexual assault, and cold cases.

    STRmix™ v2.10 will also contain a number of new features, including the introduction of a Visualize Weights module to help analysts investigate DNA interpretation results and additional improvements to dropout modelling which will allow forensic labs using FaSTR™ DNA to set a low, or even no, analytical threshold.



DNA, Genetic Genealogy ID Remains Found More than 40 Years Ago in SW Minnesota (MPRNews – 12/21/2022)

  • Investigators using DNA and genetic genealogy have identified a man whose remains were found more than 40 years ago in southwest Minnesota.

    The Rock County Sheriff’s Office and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension announced Tuesday that the remains found in March 1981 were those of Louis Anthony Gattaino of Omaha, Neb.

    The agencies said Gattaino was the victim of a murder, but did not say how he died. He was 25 years old when he went missing in October 1971, nearly 10 years before his skeletal remains were found near a culvert along Interstate 90 near Beaver Creek, Minn.

    An investigation after the remains were found in 1981 had failed to determine their identity. The sheriff’s office and BCA said forensic scientists had obtained DNA from the remains, but that DNA did not match anyone in convicted offender or missing persons databases.

    Then, in August, researchers from the nonprofit DNA Doe Project compared the DNA from the remains with a “public genealogy database” and found a possible genetic connection to Gattaino’s family.


Court Reinstates Guilty Verdicts in 1987 Killings of Couple (The Washington Post – 12/23/2022)

    • The Washington state Supreme Court on Thursday reinstated two aggravated murder convictions for a man in the 1987 killings of a young Canadian couple.

      The high court unanimously rejected the defense’s arguments that William Talbott II should be granted a new trial due to one juror’s alleged bias, concluding that defense attorneys could have dismissed the juror ahead of the trial but opted not to, The Daily Herald reported.

      Detectives arrested Talbott, 59, in 2018 after using the then-novel method of forensic genealogy to connect him to the slayings of Tanya Van Cuylenborg, 18, and Jay Cook, 20. A Snohomish County jury convicted him of the killings in 2019, sentencing him to life in prison, but an appeals court overturned that conviction last year due to one juror’s perceived bias.


NIST’s Researchers Look Ahead to High-Tech Trends in 2023 and Beyond (NIST – 12/27/2022)

    • As 2022 draws to a close, we asked NIST’s senior researchers to look ahead to the new year and beyond. They research topics that impact all of us, from indoor air quality to cybersecurity.

      We asked our fellows, “How will the technology you are working on today affect society in the years to come?” Here are their thoughts and predictions.


Why Scientists Dug up the Father of Genetics, Gregor Mendel, and Analyzed His DNA (NPR – 12/30/2022)

    • When the man known as “father of genetics” turns 200, how do you celebrate?

      By digging up his body and sequencing his DNA, of course.

      That’s what a team of scientists in the Czech Republic did this year to celebrate Gregor Mendel, a scientist and friar whose experiments in the mid-1800s laid the groundwork for modern genetics.

      Mendel lived and worked in Brno, the second-largest city in the Czech Republic. With 2022 marking the bicentennial of Mendel’s birth, local researchers there – where Mendel remains something of a hometown hero – searched for ways to remember the man and honor the moment. Possibilities included a festival, a scientific conference, and a statue.

      Astronomer Jiří Dušek, director of the Brno Observatory and Planetarium, wondered whether the founder of genetics had ever been subjected to any genetic testing.



DNA Identifies Woman’s Remains After More Than 30 Years Without Answers (WDRB – 12/30/2022)

    • Using advanced DNA testing, investigators now have a big answer they’ve been searching for for more than three decades in an unsolved case.

      According to Kentucky State Police, the KSP Forensic Lab partnered with a private company called Othram to use advanced DNA technology to establish the identify of a victim previously known as “Jane Doe.”

      That woman is now identified as Linda Bennett, recovered along a roadside in rural Owen County, Kentucky, more than 30 years ago.



Authorities Tracked the Idaho Student Killings Suspect Cross-Country to Pennsylvania, Sources Say (CNN – 12/31/2022)

    • In the nearly seven weeks since the students were found stabbed to death in an off-campus home, investigators have conducted more than 300 interviews and scoured approximately 20,000 tips in their search for the suspect. News of the killings – and the long stretch of time without a suspect or significant developments – have rattled the University of Idaho community and the surrounding town of Moscow, which had not seen a murder in seven years.

      Investigators honed in on Kohberger as the suspect through DNA evidence and by confirming his ownership of a white Hyundai Elantra seen near the crime scene, according to two law enforcement sources briefed on the investigation.



Man Found Floating in Saginaw River in 1973 Identified (DNA Doe Project – 1/05/2023)

    • After being unidentified for nearly 50 years, Daniel Garza Gonzales now has his name back. Gonzales, originally from Bee, Texas, was found floating in the Saginaw River just outside Zilwaukee Township in March, 1973. Authorities believed he had died about 6 weeks prior to the discovery of his remains.

      The case went cold until last year, when the Michigan State Police brought it to the DNA Doe Project to try investigative genetic genealogy, a process involving comparison of the John Doe’s DNA profile to potential matching family members in public databases that can be used for forensic cases.

      The DNA Doe Project wishes to acknowledge the contributions of the groups and individuals who helped solve this case: the Michigan State Police, who entrusted the case to the DNA Doe Project; Astrea Forensics for extraction of DNA and whole genome sequencing; Kevin Lord of Saber Investigations for additional bioinformatics; GEDmatch Pro and FTDNA for providing their databases; and DDP’s dedicated teams of volunteer investigative genetic genealogists who work tirelessly to bring victims home.



Ancient DNA Paints a New Picture of the Viking Age (The Wall Street Journal – 1/05/2023)

    • Bones and teeth of ancient Scandinavians excavated from burials, a sunken warship and the sites of a violent massacre have helped an international group of scientists craft an unprecedented picture of the region’s storied Viking culture.

      The researchers looked at ancient DNA spanning 2,000 years of Scandinavian history from such remains to piece together a comprehensive look at the movement of peoples into the region during the Viking Age, more than a millennium ago. These genomes are among new means to understand and explore the Vikings’s history and legacy.