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 Leads to Alleged Killer of 2 Colorado Woman Taken, Killed Hours Apart in 1982 (KIRO7 – 3/6/2021)

  • Phillips was tracked down through a collaboration between law enforcement, Metro Denver Crime Stoppers and United Data Connect, a company founded by a former Denver district attorney that works in the burgeoning industry of genetic genealogy.




In Search of a Silver Bullet for a Unified Forensic Science System (Forensic – 3/8/2021)

  • The crime scene is a one-off opportunity to maximize the value of evidence, but forensic specialists are typically not present to do that very thing. That’s due to the siloed environment the United States currently operates in, with law enforcement, the crime scene, the laboratory and end users all existing in bubbles separate from one another.

    “If these four components are siloed off from each other with minimal amount of communication, that doesn’t allow for the ideal delivery of forensic science services,” argued Rebecca Bucht, head of CSI services at NBI Forensic Science Laboratory (Finland), during a presentation at AAFS.



DNA, Public Tips Help Solve 1974 Murder (Forensic – 3/8/2021)

  • Lori Nesson, an honors student at Columbus’ Eastmoor High School, was found deceased on Sept. 28, 1974, on the west side of Reynoldsburg. She had last been seen after a school football game the night before. Constrained by the technology available at the time, the case grew cold as investigators were unable to figure out what had happened to Nesson.The Reynoldsburg Division of Police took a new look at the cold case in August 2019, at the urging of Nesson’s family, and asked the Franklin County Coroner’s Office to re-evaluate the original autopsy. Reynoldsburg Police then submitted case evidence to the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) in January 2020.



World’s Oldest DNA is Discovered in a 1.2-Million-Year-Old Mammoth (My Modern Met – 3/8/2021)

  • Until recently, the oldest DNA extracted and studied was that of an Ice Age horse found in Canadian permafrost and dating back about 700,000 years. Recent work by the Centre for Palaeogenetics in Stockholm, Sweden has taken a startlingly large leap forward and set a new record for the oldest DNA ever sequenced. In a paper published in Nature, the researchers announced their sequencing of mammoth DNA thought to be at least 1.2 million years old. This exciting news also included the discovery of an entirely knew species of mammoth, likely a precursor to the Mammuthus columbi which roamed prehistoric North America.



She Found Her Birth Father via DNA. He’s a Fugitive Accused of Killing His Whole Family. (The Washington Post – 3/9/2021)

  • When she took a DNA test decades later and eventually unearthed the identity of her birth father, it came as no surprise to find a man who exhibited the same kind of drive and flair for the dramatic.

    But Gillcrist, 63, says she could not have anticipated just how notorious he would be: Her birth father, William Bradford Bishop Jr., is accused of murdering his wife, mother and three sons with a small sledgehammer, she would learn. The notorious fugitive from Bethesda has been wanted by the FBI since 1976, at one point appearing on the agency’s Ten Most Wanted list.


Bensalem Skeletal Remains Identified as Pregnant Philadelphia Teen Missing 35 Years (Courier Times – 3/9/2021)

  • The identity of the Publicker girl, as the remains were known, had puzzled Bensalem police since the late January day in 1988 when a man walking his dog stumbled upon the partially clothed skeletal remains at the property in the 2500 block of State Road. The Vidocq Society, a members-only crime-solving club in Philadelphia, in 1994 created a sculpture recreating the head. In 2007 a DNA profile was uploaded to a national DNA database. Earlier this year, the profile was uploaded into GEDMatch, an online service to compare autosomal DNA data files from different testing companies. It allowed a team of DNA genealogists to build a family tree, which linked Publicker girl to the Todd family.