Feb 04 2022
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!
Kansas City, Kansas, Police Start Cold Case Unit (AP News – 1/27/2022)
The Kansas City, Kansas, police department is opening a new unit to review cold cases, Chief Karl Oakman said.
Oakman announced Thursday the city has 285 unsolved homicides spanning five decades.
The cases will benefit from a fresh review, advances in DNA and other forensic testing, he said.
Denver Police Solve Killings of Three Women and a Teen from 40 Years Ago: ‘Our Team Did Not Forget’ (Washington Post – 1/29/2022)
Police in Colorado have identified the man who killed three women and a teenage girl more than 40 years ago, with the help of genetic genealogy and DNA. After authorities had examined the murders as separate incidents, DNA evidence tied two of them in 2013, and the probe “soon snowballed,” according to the police. Investigators found more links between the four cases in 2015 and 2018, eventually tracing the samples to the ancestry of the killer and exhuming his body in Texas.
DNA Evidence Results in Arrest in 16-Year-Old Murder Case: LASD (KTLA 75 – 1/29/2022)
Advancements in DNA technology helped authorities to identify a suspect in a nearly four-decade-old cold case that involved the murder of a woman in Apple Valley.
Robert Eugene Wortman, a late resident of Apple Valley, was identified as the suspect in the 37-year-old cold case murder of Helen Margaret Brooks, 63, according to sheriff’s officials on Monday.
Investigators from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Detail — Cold Case Unit along with those from the FBI — Riverside Office worked to solve the cold case.
DNA Evidence Leads to Arrest of Inglewood Teacher in 2005 Murder Case. He Says He Didn’t Do It. (Los Angeles Times – 1/30/2022)
An Inglewood teacher was arrested on suspicion of murdering a 21-year-old woman in 2005 after DNA and fingerprint evidence allegedly linked him to the killing, authorities said Saturday. Reached by phone Sunday, Wright denied involvement in the crime. He said detectives had found his fingerprints on Epps’ purse, but that could be explained because he had been selling purses, tennis shoes and clothing from the trunk of his car at the time of the slaying. He did not address the DNA allegation but said he had resigned from Inglewood Unified School District to fight the case.
Blood Evidence, Genealogy Ties Suspect to 1985 Murder of Taxi Driver (Forensic – 1/31/2022)
Shortly after midnight on May 28, 1985, Jawed Ahmed, a 32-year-old taxi driver, picked up a man at a Quik Stop gas station at Northern Lights Boulevard and Boniface Parkway. A while later, bystanders found the taxi crashed in a yard on the northeast corner of Muldoon Road and Boundary Avenue. The taxi was still running and Ahmed was at the wheel with fatal gunshot wounds. In 2020, Anchorage PD investigators submitted evidence to Othram in hopes that advanced DNA testing would help identify the man responsible for Ahmed’s death. Othram scientists used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing to build a comprehensive genealogical profile from the crime scene evidence and this profile was returned to Anchorage Police Department investigators. The Anchorage Police Department investigators performed a genealogical search to generate leads.
DNA Advancements Help Solve 37-Year-Old Cold Case Homicide (Forensic – 1/31/2022)
- Investigators from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Detail—Cold Case Unit along with investigators from the FBI—Riverside Office have solved the 37-year-old cold case of Helen Brooks.
On July 5, 1985, Brooks was found murdered inside her apartment in Apple Valley after friends and co-workers became alarmed because she had not been heard from in a few days. Investigators collected DNA evidence from the scene but were limited to the DNA technology of the time and did not identify a suspect. In 2021, Cold Case Homicide Investigators, partnered with the FBI – Riverside Office, re-opened the case and requested an additional analysis of the suspect’s DNA profile. Through additional investigation and advancements in DNA technology, Wortman was identified as the suspect in Brooks’ murder.
This Company Says It’s Developing a System that Can Recognize Your Face from Just Your DNA (Technology Review – 1/31/2022)
- Corsight AI, a facial recognition subsidiary of the Israeli AI company Cortica, purports to be devising a solution for that sort of situation by using DNA to create a model of a face that can then be run through a facial recognition system. It is a task that experts in the field regard as scientifically untenable.
Billie-Jo Jenkins: Forensic Review 25 Years After Unsolved Murder (BBC News – 1/31/2022)
Police are conducting a forensic review of material linked to one of the UK’s most high-profile unsolved murders. Billie-Jo Jenkins, 13, was battered to death at her foster home in Hastings, East Sussex, in February 1997. Her foster father Sion Jenkins was formally acquitted of her murder in 2006. Sussex Police say the review is part of a “regular assessment process” to establish if scientific advances can provide new evidence in cold cases.
DNA Helps Solve Cold Case and Identify 1980s Serial Killer in Eugene (KPIC4 – 2/2/2022)
DNA technology helped investigators identify a serial killer responsible for the murders of three Eugene women in the late 1980s. The cases had gone cold until 2016, when advances in genetics put police back on a path to find the killer. A new technology from Parabon Nano Labs made it possible to infer the physical characteristics of individuals based on DNA information. The suspect – John Charles Bolsinger – was born September 17, 1957.
The Gwinnett County Medical Examiner’s office and DNA Doe Project identify remains found in 2003 as Gordon D. Rexrode (DNA Doe Project – 2/3/2022)
Skeletal remains discovered in a storm basin along Craig Drive in Lawrenceville, Georgia in 2003 have been identified as those of Gordon D. Rexrode. Authorities believe Rexrode died sometime in 2002 after being estranged from his family. A missing persons report filed in 1998 was never connected to the remains found in 2003.
In May, 2021, Pathologist Dr. Carol Terry of the Gwinnett County Medical Examiner’s office reached out to the DNA Doe Project for help identifying the remains that had been unidentified since 2003. A DNA sample was submitted to laboratory analysis and a profile was created and uploaded to GEDmatch, a public database. In November, genealogy work began on the case and the DNA Doe Project’s volunteer investigative genetic genealogists were able to use DNA matches to the John Doe to identify Gordon Rexrode as the likely candidate within a week. Rexrode was born November 2, 1932 in West Virginia, and also lived in Alabama and Georgia before he disappeared from public records in 2002.
Woman Identified through Investigative Genetic Genealogy by the DNA Doe Project (DNA Doe Project – 2/4/2022)
Forty-five years after the remains of a woman were discovered floating in the Mississippi River near Lilydale, Minnesota, the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office and the DNA Doe Project can confirm her identity as Roberta Seyfert.
Using a DNA sample previously taken from the remains, the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office contacted the DNA Doe Project in March of last year hoping to identify the woman using investigative genetic genealogy. The sample was processed to create a DNA profile that could be uploaded to GEDmatch, a public database, and by late June, 2021, the volunteer investigative genetic genealogists began to analyze the genetic matches.
The closest DNA matches were distant cousins. DDP’s Investigative Genetic Genealogy Research Team traced the Doe’s paternal line back to early eighteenth-century Luxembourg to find a common ancestor who had immigrated to the United States in the mid-1840’s. On July 3, 2021, the team arrived at a potential candidate for Jane Doe and notified the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office.
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