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

State Forensics Panel Approves Use of Family DNA to Solve Crimes After Slain Jogger’s Family Pushed for the Technique (New York Daily News – 6/16/2017)

  • In a historic move that could change the face of criminal investigations, a state panel approved the use of familial DNA to solve violent crimes, officials said Friday.



London Fire may Have Destroyed DNA Needed to ID Victims (The Republic – 6/16/2017)

  • As firefighters keep searching the charred ruins of the Grenfell Tower public housing complex with sniffer dogs and drones, Metropolitan Police commander Stuart Cundy said there was “a risk that, sadly, we may not be able to identify everybody.”


Silent Witness: What Human Remains Can Tell Us (The Irish Times – 6/17/2017)

  • For murder investigators the remains of a body are more than just evidence. They are a silent witness, to use forensic pathologists’ term for the incredible amount of information that even a preliminary examination provides about how the person died.


How Are Rape Kits Processed? (Statesman Journal – 6/17/2017)

  • The lengthy testing period paired with a limited number of scientists who juggle other casework may have contributed to the growing backlog of rape kits in Oregon.


Cats and Humans: DNA Reveals a Complex, Ancient Love Story (CBS News – 6/19/2017)

  • A DNA study reached back thousands of years to track that conquest and found evidence of two major dispersals from the Middle East, in which people evidently took cats with them. Genetic signatures the felines had on those journeys are still seen in most modern-day breeds.


Virginia Deserves Applause for its Work to Eliminate a Rape Kit Backlog (The Washington Post – 6/19/2017)

  • So when authorities undertake to eliminate the existing backlog and prevent future ones, it is a sign of a new approach that prioritizes getting justice for victims and holding offenders accountable. That is what is happening in Virginia, and it should be applauded.


Improving a Database to Help Identify a Vehicle by Using Paint Fragments (Forensic Magazine – 6/20/2017)

  • For years, investigators have relied on the Paint Data Query database, developed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, to identify the make of a vehicle by matching the physical attributes, chemical composition, and infrared spectrum of the paint, primers, and clear coating layers. The Paint Data Query database contains more than 21,000 automotive paint samples that correspond to more than 84,000 individual paint layers used on most domestic and foreign vehicles sold in North America.


Pacemakers and Other Cardiac Devices Can Help Solve Forensic Cases (Forensic Magazine – 6/20/2017)

  • Pacemakers and other cardiac devices can help solve forensic cases, according to a study presented today at EHRA EUROPACE – CARDIOSTIM 2017. Devices revealed the time and cause of death in some cases where autopsy failed to do so.


The DNA Detective: How DO You Trace Your Family 70 Years After You’ve Been Abandoned as a Newborn Baby? (Daily Mail – 6/20/2017)

  • Linda, 72, believed she was destined to never know who her birth parents were. Her mother had asked a stranger to keep watch of her baby, but never returned. Step forward ‘DNA detective’ Julia Bell, 47, who may have unlocked family secret


DNA Labs International Identifies Suspect in Double Homicide Case Using STRmix™ (Laura Burgess Marketing – 6/20/2017)

  • The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office submitted evidence taken from a vehicle involved in the case to DNA Labs International, a private forensic laboratory in Broward County, Florida, to process the DNA. By using STRmix™, DNA Labs International was able to determine that Dwayne Cummings and three unknown persons had contributed to the mixed DNA profile. Not only did the use of STRmix help to identify a perpetrator in the case, but it has also validated that STRmix is adequately robust enough for implementation in forensic laboratories and cases.


Not a Lawn Mower, but a Moose: Swedish Death Investigation Yields Unique Results (Forensic Magazine – 6/21/2017)

  • The preliminary conclusion by local authorities was that she had been killed elsewhere in a gruesome way: by use of a riding reel lawn mower. But the detailed investigation by a team of experts, published in the latest Journal of Forensic Sciences, came upon an even more unlikely scenario: she had been killed in a brutal moose attack.


Exclusive: Bone-Sniffing Dogs to Hunt for Amelia Earhart’s Remains (National Geographic – 6/21/2017)

  • In what may be the best chance yet to learn the famous aviator’s fate, forensic dogs are headed to a Pacific island to search for her bones.


Everything Worth Knowing About… Ancient DNA (Discover Magazine – July/August 2017)

  • Today, technological advances allow scientists to read billions of letters from the genomes of ancient humans and other organisms, transforming our view of history and evolution.