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!





Illinois Creates New Commission to Fight Backlog of Unprocessed DNA Evidence (CBS Chicago – 6/13/2021)

  • Illinois is creating a new commission to help wipe out a backlog of unprocessed DNA evidence. The goal is to improve coordination between police departments and forensic scientists to get DNA evidence processed and help solve crimes.



INTERPOL’s Global DNA Database Can ID Missing Persons through Kinship Matching (Forensic – 6/14/2021)

  • This month, INTERPOL debuted I-Familia, the first global database designed to use DNA of relatives to identify missing persons or unidentified human remains around the world.

    The move is significant at the international level, where it has been a trial to identify missing persons across country lines.


Investigators, Forensic Experts ID Vancleave Jane Doe After 30 Years (Forensic – 6/14/2021)

  • In early 1991, hunters came upon the skeletal remains of a young woman near Ward Bayou in Vancleave, Mississippi. Investigators initially determined that the remains were likely from a Caucasian woman in her late 20s. It was not clear exactly when she had died but investigators estimated that she might have died up to three years before being located. The death was ruled a homicide, however there were few clues to her identity. In 2019, the Mississippi State Crime Laboratory teamed up with Othram to leverage advanced DNA testing to help produce leads that might lead to the identity of Vancleave Jane Doe or a relative of hers. Othram received skeletal remains and used a combination of proprietary human enrichment steps and Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing to build a genealogical profile for the unknown woman. The work was funded by the Mississippi State Crime Laboratory and a generous donation by genetic genealogist and Mississippi native Carla Davis.


Pecos Jane Has a Name (TexasMonthly – 6/14/2021)

  • The young woman who mysteriously drowned in the Ropers Motel pool in 1966 might have remained anonymous forever, if not for cutting-edge genetics, old-fashioned genealogy—and the kindness of a small West Texas town.


Genealogy Used to Identify Pulaski Co. Jane Doe (KY3 – 6/15/2021)

  • We’re learning how detectives identified a 40-year-old missing persons case in Pulaski County.

    “Jane Doe” was finally identified as Karen Knippers.

    “Our mission is to return the names to the nameless,” said Franchesca Werden, with the DNA Doe Project.



Mexico Missing Students: Remains of Third Victim Identified (BBC – 6/16/2021)

  • Forensic experts have identified the remains of a student who was among a group of 43 who disappeared in the Mexican state of Guerrero in 2014.


The Missing Piece: Lisa Todd (Publicker Girl) Preview

  • In 1988, a passerby discovered the partially clothed remains of a young woman in an underground pump house on the former Publicker Distiller property in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. Named the Publicker Girl, she was estimated to be 17-20 years old and six months pregnant when she died. With little information for investigators, the case went cold and became the township’s oldest unidentified person. Subscribe to ISHInews on YouTube to be among the first to watch the full episode coming next week.