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!





Family Hopes New DNA Technology Can Solve 1975 Murder of North Carolina Teen Donna Emmel (NBC News – 6/20/2021)

  • Donna’s short life ended when she was murdered on June 16, 1975. Her body was found the next day in a drainage ditch across the road from her home in Newport. As another year marks the anniversary of the 15-year-old girl’s murder, her remaining family members are hopeful that the NC SBI will do all they can to solve Donna’s case.



True Crime is One of TV’s Top Genres. Critics Say It’s Failing Us (Los Angeles Times – 6/21/2021)

  • Despite the genre’s proliferation on streaming platforms and podcast networks, then, it’s unclear whether, and how much, true crime media has changed the way law enforcement conducts investigations or solves crimes.


Genetic Testing Helps Solve a 14-Year-Old Tampa Rape Case (WFTS Tampa Bay – 6/22/2021)

  • A rape suspect is behind bars after Tampa police solve a 14-year-old cold case using genetic genealogy testing.

    The alleged rape happened back in 2007. According to TPD the victim, a University of Tampa student, was walking back to her dorm after the Gasparilla parade. She told detectives she was intoxicated and may have been stumbling around. The suspect, Jared Vaughn, allegedly offered to walk to the victim back to her dorm.


UK Police Force First to Use DNA to Tackle Dog Thefts (Forensic – 6/23/2021)

  • Gloucestershire Constabulary has become the first police force globally to use DNA to tackle dog thefts. “DNA Protected” uses a DNA marker system that has been developed for forensic analysis to help investigate criminal cases involving the theft of dogs.

    Storing a dog’s DNA profile on Cellmark’s forensic dog DNA database will make it easily accessible to police forces and could help ensure the dog’s safe return if it is lost or stolen.


The Missing Piece: Lisa Todd (Publicker Girl)

  • 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.

    In 2020, Bensalem PD partnered with Bode Technology to explore advanced DNA testing methods. The DNA extract developed at Bode Technology was then sent to Othram Inc. for further analysis. While the DNA evidence was severely degraded due to the age of the case and the condition in which the remains were found, the Bode-Othram partnership produced a genealogical profile that enabled genealogy search. Genealogical research performed by Bensalem PD produced the leads necessary to confirm Lisa Todd’s identity.