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!





Genetic Genealogy Partnership Brings Closure to 5 Cold Cases in 2 Years (9News – 2/26/2021)

  • Metro Denver Crime Stoppers and United Data Connect targeted five cold cases as part of a pilot program. This week an arrest was announced in the final case.




Arizona’s ‘Valentine Sally’ Identified through DNA, Genealogy as Missing Missouri Girl After 40 Years (FOX23 – 2/26/2021)

  • Her body had been dumped face down under a cedar tree along Interstate 40 in nearby Williams. For nearly 40 years, the girl, dubbed “Valentine Sally” by law enforcement officers, has remained unidentified, becoming one of the oldest Jane Doe cases in Arizona. Genetic genealogy, which has helped police solve dozens of long-cold cases in the past few years, was instrumental in leading Arizona investigators to the family’s door.



Elizabeth College Student is Using Genetic Genealogy to Help Police Crack Cold Cases (FOX43 – 2/27/2021)

  • The week he graduated high school, Eric received an email from a police department in Montgomery County, Pa asking for his help on a cold case.



Where are Mexico’s Disappeared? Many Have Been in Government Graves All Along (Los Angeles Times – 2/28/2021)

  • Some 80,000 Mexicans have disappeared in the last 15 years and never been found. Many are now thought to be in government custody — among the thousands of corpses that pass through morgues each year without ever being identified and end up in common graves.



DNA on Coke Can Sheds Light on 40-Year-Old Murder (Independent – 2/28/2021)

  • A relatively new technology, called genetic genealogy, was used to connect the suspect to a can of vanilla-flavoured Coke swabbed at the scene of the crime in Cherry Hills, Colorado more than 40 years ago.

    Traces of the man’s DNA were matched to those of family members, whose genetic information was stored on a database owned by United Data Connect, a company founded by former Denver attorney general Mitch Morrissey, which worked with the FBI to solve the murder case.



Wyoming Wildlife Forensics Expert Reflects on 35-Year Career (The Telegraph – 2/28/2021)

  • For 35 years, Dee Dee Hawk was solving unusual mysteries, like whether a captured grizzly bear was guilty of attacking a human. Sometimes using only scraps of evidence, she helped put bad guys behind bars and unraveled wildlife-related whodunits when there were no witnesses.



Slowly but Surely: Taking Genetic Genealogy to the Next Level (Forensic – 3/1/2021)

  • Colleen Fitzpatrick is the pioneer of forensic genetic genealogy (FGG), so it would only make sense for her to usher it into the next era—a step, she says, that moves FGG from the “OMG era” to the “investigative intelligence era.”

    Three specific things have recently happened to Fitzpatrick that she thinks will ultimately help in the battle to advance FGG: 1) she was named the director of forensic genetic genealogy at the country’s only non-profit forensics lab, Intermountain Forensics, 2) she was promoted to Member by the American Academy of Forensic Science, and 3) she was invited to join the Vidocq Society, the historic members-only crime solving club.



Saginaw Police Department and Othram Team to Identify Michigan Teen Found in 1988 (Forensic – 3/1/2021)

  • In October 1988, authorities responded to the call of an unidentified body in Saginaw, Michigan. When they arrived at the scene, they found the body of a young African American man who had died only hours prior.The Saginaw Police Department has partnered with Othram, Inc. to use advanced DNA testing to establish an identification of, or to find nearest kin to the decedent.



U.S. Private Equity Firm Acquires MyHeritage (Forensic – 3/1/2021)

  • MyHeritage has announced that Francisco Partners, a leading global investment firm that specializes in partnering with technology businesses, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the company. The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.



DNA Test Reveals Connection Between Brunswick County Woman and Killer Wanted by FBI (WECT 6 News – 3/2/2021)

  • Kathy Gillcrist always knew she was adopted, but she had no idea just how different her life would’ve been if her birth mother hadn’t made the decision to give her up after she was born. A DNA test taken in 2017 helped her locate some family members, but the hardest to find was her father. She uncovered his name was William Bradford Bishop, Jr., and the US government has been trying to track him down since the 1970s. He’s accused of brutally murdering his wife and three children. After the murder, the killer drove 300 miles to Columbia, North Carolina.



Forensic Evidence Helps Investigators Solve 1974 Murder of 15-Year-Old Girl in Reynoldsburg (LimaOhio – 3/4/2021)

  • The body of Lori Nesson, an honors student at Columbus’ Eastmoor High School, was found on Sept. 28, 1974, a day after she had last been seen at a football game. But investigators were never able to find her killers and the case eventually went cold.

    Investigators have now determined that the two men who were responsible for Nesson’s death were the same men convicted of assaulting and murdering a 17-year-old Whitehall girl a year later in the Blacklick area.



Could Science of Genetic Genealogy Help Solve Jonathan Foundling Case? (OnlineAthens – 3/4/2021)

  • Old, unsolved cases are finding closure through a DNA technology that law enforcement agencies across the nation are beginning to embrace. A key figure in that genealogy science suggests the technology could help solve the case of a newborn infant stabbed to death in a University of Georgia dormitory in 1996.