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

Texas to Implement Rape Kit Reform Law – Including Tracking of Tests (Forensic Magazine – 6/9/2017)

  • Texas is the first state to pass a law that would establish a wide array of rape kit reforms—including mandatory testing, an annual statewide audit and a tracking system for both law enforcement and victims to track results.


The Shifting Science of DNA in the Courtroom (CNN – 6/9/2017)

  • This summer marks 30 years since one of the biggest advances in criminal investigations, DNA profiling, identified a killer.


Corrections Collects DNA Samples With New Policy Covering Inmates Who Refuse (Lincoln Journal Star – 6/9/2017)

  • The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services is making progress on collecting DNA samples from 78 inmates who have refused to give samples over the past 20 years, the agency said Thursday in a news release.


After 27 Years, Judge Overturns Rape Conviction (Urban Milwaukee – 6/11/2017)


Murder Case Highlights Importance of Conviction Review (Hartford Courant – 6/11/2017)

  • On Thursday, Hartford Judge Julia D. Dewey vacated the conviction of Alfred Swinton for the murder of Carla Terry in 1991 and ordered a new trial. Swinton was convicted in 2001 and sentenced to 60 years in prison.


Evidence in Gardner Museum Thefts That Might Bear DNA is Missing (News Medical Life Sciences – 6/11/2017)

  • But behind the scenes, federal investigators searching for a break in the world’s largest art theft were stymied by another mystery. The duct tape and handcuffs that the thieves had used to restrain the museum’s two security guards — evidence that might, even 27 years after the crime, retain traces of DNA — had disappeared.


Science Orgs Ask DOJ to Close ‘Gaps’ in Forensic Knowledge Base (Forensic Magazine – 6/12/2017)

  • Four major scientific organizations have asked the U.S. Department of Justice to institute an independent committee to look at the “scientific and technical gaps” in forensic science.


Someone – Who May Have Looked Like This – Killed a MD Store Owner 25 Years Ago (The Washington Post – 6/12/2017)

  • Now, taking advantage of a new technology that uses DNA details to create a drawing of what the possible killer looked like, detectives remain ever hopeful that they will finally solve the case.


Maharashtra Will be First Indian State to Use Barcodes to Register Forensic Samples (Mid-Day – 6/13/2017)

  • Barcodes, they are not just for making your supermarket checkout easy. If the state’s plan falls into place, soon, Maharashtra will become the first in the country to have its forensic evidence sent to labs with barcodes as well.


Fingerprint Traces Captured by Laser Ablation, Mass Spec at LSU (Forensic Magazine – 6/14/2017)

  • The latest two-step method would involve laser ablation, vacuum capture and mass spectrometry—a technique especially effective on porous surfaces like cardboard, according to Louisiana State University chemists.


New Face-Aging Technique Could Boost Search for Missing People (Forensic Magazine – 6/14/2017)

  • A new method maps out the key features, such as the shape of the cheek, mouth and forehead, of a face at a certain age. This information is fed to a computer algorithm which then synthesizes new features for the face to produce photographic quality images of the face at different ages.


Ancient DNA Could Unravel the Mystery of Prehistoric European Migration (Smithsonian – 6/14/2017)

  • By combining genetic data with archaeology, researchers analyzed the DNA of over 300 ancient Eurasians and Near-Eastern Europeans to find that these people may have roamed surprisingly far.


Profile: Alison Galloway, Speaker for the Dead (Forensic Magazine – 6/14/2017)

  • So, she enrolled in the University of Arizona anthropology program in 1981. Galloway came face to face with her first burned body—“black and crispy”—during that first year. She’d seen skeletons before, but never a body. It took only one for her to become hooked on forensic anthropology. “I enjoy the mystery of solving the puzzle,” she says. “It’s that challenge of thinking ‘how can I make sense of this.’”


State Forensic Panel May Vote on Using Familial DNA Friday (Newsday – 6/14/2017)

  • A top state forensic science body is scheduled to meet Friday and possibly vote on whether to allow New York State police agencies to use the emerging and somewhat controversial DNA procedure of familial searching used in other states to solve crimes, officials said.


The Boy in the Blue Box: Greece, NY Cold Case Gets New Face, Leads (Forensic Magazine – 6/15/2017)

  • But when a local Greece, New York police sergeant was recently assigned the case, he decided to leverage the latest 21st century tools by reaching out the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.