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 Doe Project Names Another, Giving Major Piece in Infamous Ohio Mystery (Forensic Magazine – 6/22/2018)

  • The dead man, it seems, had something to hide. And when he was cremated under his pseudonym, it seemed he had covered all his tracks.

    But he had left behind a tissue sample at a local hospital. And now at least part of the mystery has been uncovered by the DNA Doe Project, with the latest headline-grabbing breakthrough produced by forensic genealogy.


He Stole the Identity of a Dead 8-Year-Old. Police Want to Know What He Was Hiding From. (The Washington Post – 6/22/2018)

  • If the real Chandler had died a half-century earlier, who was the dead man in Ohio?

    For the past 16 years, speculation about the dead man’s identity has stumped law enforcement. Wild theories have wrapped around the case — could he have been the Zodiac Killer? Mysterious hijacker D.B. Cooper? Why was he hiding behind the stolen identity?


Family DNA Testing at the Border Would Be An Ethical Quagmire (WIRED – 6/22/2018)

  • But even if testing companies can coordinate getting the kits into the right hands, using DNA to reunite families isn’t going to be that easy. And between privacy concerns and the potential for future human rights violations, it might not even be a good idea.


Scientists are Building a DNA Database to Fight Illegal Logging (Engadget – 6/23/2018)

  • The initiative, a collaboration between the Norwegian government and United States Forest Service’s international program, will initially focus on creating a database for the bigleaf maple tree on the West Coast. And the great thing about it if you’re someone who’s passionate about helping the environment is that you can help gather samples for DNA testing.



DNA on Napkin Used to Crack 32-Year-Old Cold Case, Police Say (CNN – 6/23/2018)

  • Police developed a male DNA profile from crime scene evidence, but found no match in state and national databases. In 2016, police began working with a genetic genealogist.


Charla Huber: Adoptees Turn to DNA Tests for Answers (Times Colonist – 6/24/2018)

  • DNA technology is getting so advanced that we can’t hide from it. Families who placed children for adoption are being found through DNA testing sites, whether they want to be found or not.


‘I’m Not a Great One for Legacy’ – Prof Dame Sue Black’s Farewell to Dundee (BBC News – 6/25/2018)

  • Prof Black leaves behind the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID) and the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science, both created during her 15 years at Dundee University.

    The professor and her team have developed new forensic techniques, including identifying child abusers through vein and skin patterns.


We’ve Discovered a Way to Recover DNA from Fingerprints Without Destroying Them (The Conversation – 6/25/2018)

  • Our new process involves applying a soft, low-adhesive gel material to the surface for a couple of seconds to recover any DNA-containing material while leaving any fingermarks intact.


Modern Forensics Lead Brazos County Authorities to Executed Murderer as Likely Killer of Virginia Freeman (The Eagle – 6/26/2018)

  • The DNA phenotyping tool from Parabon NanoLabs used the DNA found under Freeman’s fingernails to create composite sketches of the face that may have belonged to her killer.

    Following the DNA analysis that showed authorities a likeness of the killer and described the likely phenotypes of the killer’s eyes, hair, complexion and freckling, Parabon informed the Sheriff’s Office that it could use genetic and ancestry research to create a DNA profile of the killer’s family.


BYU Family History Students Helping the Army Identify Remains of Missing Soldiers with DNA Testing (Daily Herald – 6/25/2018)

  • For the past year, a handful of people at BYU have been working with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to find living relatives of missing soldiers who could be candidates for DNA testing in order to match remains of unidentified soldiers with families. The agency reached out to BYU, which has the only family history degree in the nation, to help find living relatives of missing soldiers.


DNA Evidence Leads to DJ’s Arrest in Teacher’s 1992 Killing (Forensic Magazine – 6/26/2018)

  • Police used genealogical information from a close relative to identify the suspect in the rape and strangulation of an elementary school teacher in 1992 and charged him Monday with the long unsolved killing.


DNA Yields Vary Within Same Bone, Michigan State Study Shows (Forensic Magazine – 6/26/2018)

  • Extracting DNA from bones, especially those buried for a long time, has traditionally been forensically focused on tapping the inner parts of the long bones—the central part of the femur, for example.

    But a new study from Michigan State indicates that the ends of the bones are a better target—and there is a vast complexity within a single bone’s DNA sources. The findings are published this week by The Journal of Forensic Sciences.


Genealogists Turn to Cousins’ DNA and Family Trees to Crack Five More Cold Cases (The New York Times – 6/27/2018)

  • Police arrested a D.J. in Pennsylvania and a nurse in Washington State this week, the latest examples of the use of an open-source ancestry site since the break in the Golden State killer case