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


DNA Swabs Test: Good Absorption, but Less Than 50 Percent Recovery (Forensic Magazine – 6/15/2018)


Investigators Say DNA Database Can Be Goldmine for Old Cases (ABC News – 6/16/2018)

  • A microscopic thread of DNA evidence in a public genealogy database led California authorities to declare this spring they had caught the Golden State Killer, the rapist and murderer who had eluded authorities for decades.

    Emboldened by that breakthrough, a number of private investigators are spearheading a call for amateur genealogists to help solve other cold cases by contributing their own genetic information to the same public database. They say a larger array of genetic information would widen the pool to find criminals who have eluded capture.


Genealogy Websites Strike Again as Trucker ‘Linked to Deaths Through DNA’ (New Zealand Herald – 6/17/2018)

  • A Washington state trucker who authorities say was linked by DNA evidence to the 1987 deaths of a young Canadian couple has been charged with two counts of murder. Authorities say they used information from public genealogy websites to pinpoint Talbott as a suspect then arrested him after getting a DNA sample from a cup that fell from his truck.


Extinct Giant Panda Lineage Discovered Thanks to DNA from 22,000-Year-Old Skull (Gizmodo – 6/18/2018)

  • DNA from a 22,000-year-old fossilized panda skull suggests an entirely separate lineage of giant pandas once roamed the area that is now southern China.



Finding Jane Doe’s Real Name: Local DNA Sleuth is on the Case (Sonoma West Times & News – 6/20/2018)

  • In 2017 the DNA Doe Project, Inc. was launched. The Sebastopol-based, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization helps identify Jane and John Does and return them to their families. Run entirely by experienced volunteers in the genealogy and forensic community, the organization cracked its first case in March 2018.


D.C. Hotel Serial Rapist Indicted via DNA, but Actual Suspect Remains Elusive (NBC News – 6/19/2018)

  • The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia has for the first time pursued the indictment for a John Doe profile based on DNA evidence.


Victorians Under Arrest to be DNA Swabbed Under New Legislation (Erin Pearson – 6/19/2018)

  • Victoria Police will have the power to take DNA swabs from every person arrested for a serious crime, before they’re even charged, under proposed new laws set to be tabled on Wednesday.

    Police say more than 10,000 unsolved crimes could be unravelled if Parliament passes the new legislation to be introduced by the police minister.


New Human Gene Tally Reignites Debate (Nature – 6/19/2018)

  • Some fifteen years after the human genome was sequenced, researchers still can’t agree on how many genes it contains.


Should Statues of Limitations for Rape Be Abolished? (The New York Times Magazine – 6/19/2018)

  • Across the country, time-limiting laws prevent scores of sexual assault cases from being prosecuted, in spite of persuasive evidence or a confession.


DNA Doe Project Helping With Years-Old Butler County Jane Doe Case (FOX 19 – 6/19/2018)

  • For three years, Butler County officials have been working to identify a woman who was found dead in West Chester in 2015. Now, with the help of a non-profit focused on DNA, they could be getting closer than ever.


Using Bloodstains at Crime Scenes to Determine Age of a Suspect or Victim (Forensic Magazine – 6/20/2018)

  • From the spatter analysis made famous in the TV show Dexter to the frequent DNA profiling of CSI and the real cases covered in the FBI Files, blood tests are ubiquitous in forensic science. Now, researchers report in ACS Central Science that a new blood test, which could be performed at a crime scene, could help determine the age of a suspect or victim within just an hour.


Giant Operation Against Wildlife Crime in 92 Countries (Forensic Magazine – 6/20/2018)

  • A monthlong global operation against illegal trade in wildlife and timber has resulted in the seizure of thousands of live animals and tons of meat and ivory, international police agency Interpol announced on Wednesday.


Daughter of US Serial Killer Offers DNA to Gardai in Bid to Help Solve Irish Cold Case Murders (Independent – 6/19/2018)

  • The daughter of a notorious US serial killer has offered her DNA to gardai in a bid to help solve cold case murders that took place during a period when her father visited Ireland.


To Get Ahead of Backlog, Houston Forensic Science Center Outsources DNA Work (Forensic Magazine – 6/20/2018)

  • For the next 10 months, the Houston Forensic Science Center will outsource most of its DNA work to a private laboratory to play catch-up with a backlog of evidence.

    Half of the $2 million project will be covered by federal grants—and the laboratory will still handle priority and urgent cases as it prepares to increase capacity for the future, according to the HFSC.