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

Washington Bill Proposes DNA Collection from Dead Convicts, Indecent Exposers (Forensic Magazine – 3/10/2017)

  • Executed murderers and those convicted of indecent exposure are not in the DNA databases in Washington state—but a new bill proposes to add them.


Richard III Experts Called in to Identify Jack the Ripper Victim (Leicester Mercury – 3/12/2017)

  • The Leicester University experts whose work led to the discovery of Richard III’s remains have been involved in a new project – to identify the last known victim of Jack the Ripper.


Forensic Exam Made Available to Domestic Violence Victims (The San Diego Union-Tribune – 3/12/2017)

  • For decades in San Diego County, victims of sexual assault and child abuse have been examined by specially trained forensic nurses who expertly document their injuries to aid in prosecution.

    Now, due to a grant from the state Office of Emergency Services, some domestic violence victims will get the same treatment.


Army Hopes $10K Reward, DNA Phenotype will Help Solve 1987 Colorado Murder (Denver 7 – 3/13/2017)

  • The U.S. Army is offering a $10,000 reward to anyone who can help find the killer of a young woman stationed at Fort Carson who was murdered nearly 30 years ago to date.


30 Years of DNA Technology (Forensic Magazine – 3/13/2017)

  • The greatest advance in criminal investigations since fingerprints is the application of DNA technology to the criminal justice process. The proper collection and analysis of DNA can convict the guilty and exonerate the innocent. Procedural improvements have made the collection of DNA evidence more efficient and reliable. Advances in science allow forensic scientists to identify DNA samples from hair, bone, skin and tissue, and ever smaller amounts of blood and other body fluids.


Knowing or Reckless: Brain Scans Show Criminal Motivations (Forensic Magazine – 3/13/2017)

  • Brain imaging can show whether someone is knowingly committing a crime, or recklessly skirting the law, according to an experimental new study.


New Forensics Tools will Speed the Identification and Rescue of Children Pictured in Child Sexual Exploitation Material (PR Newswire – 3/13/2017)

  • Researchers at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering and the digital intelligence tech company Griffeye have begun building a sophisticated suite of tools to be provided pro bono to law enforcement officials seeking to identify children in child sexual exploitation material (sometimes referred to as child pornography) and rescuing victims. The National Institute of Justice, a division of the U.S. Department of Justice, awarded the project $465,000 over three years.


Crime Victims’ Families Plead for Action on DNA Collection Bill (ABC 10 – 3/14/2017)

  • A Yuba City woman is pleading for state lawmakers to approve a bill that would allow DNA collection from criminals convicted of crimes that used to be felonies. Those crimes are now classified as misdemeanors after the passage of Proposition 47.


Jack the Ripper Victim Mary Kelly Hunted by Richard III Team (BBC News – 3/14/2017)

  • Author Patricia Cornwell asked experts from the University of Leicester to track down his last victim, Mary Kelly.


When Animals Become Evidence, ASPCA Provides Examination and Care (Forensic Magazine – 3/15/2017)

  • Unlike most forms of evidence, which can be tucked away into a box or envelope, animals who have been abused, neglected or connected with a crime require special resources and care to ensure their well-being while in police custody.


Cold Case Chronicles: The Acid Bath Murders (Forensic Magazine – 3/15/2017)

  • Known as the Acid Bath Murderer, John George Haigh (July 24, 1909- August 10, 1949) was a serial killer more famous for his method of corpse disposal than how many people he killed or how he killed them. Haigh murdered at least six people between 1944 and 1949 and used sulphuric acid to disappear their remains. He was only caught when, in a moment of arrogance, he led police to the remains of his final victim, Olivia Durand-Deacon.


Mexican Official: 250 Skulls Found in Clandestine Graves (Forensic Magazine – 3/15/2017)

  • More than 250 skulls have been found over the last several months in what appears to be a drug cartel mass burial ground on the outskirts of the city of Veracruz, prosecutors said Tuesday.


The Case of the Dead Dog, the Bullet, and the Geneticist Who Solved It (The Atlantic – 3/15/2017)

  • Alain Frantz is a population geneticist—not a detective or policeman or forensics expert. But he often works on game animals, like deer and badgers, which naturally leads to working with collaborators who work with hunters. And that is how the mystery of the dead hunting dog fell into his lap.


APD Hands Control of the DNA Lab Over to DPS (CBS Austin – 3/15/2017)

  • The Austin Police Department says they’re handing their DNA lab over to the state.

    The city will pay $800,000 to the Department of Public Safety so they can oversee the facility.


FY2017 Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence-Inventory, Tracking, and Reporting Program (Department of Justice – 3/16/2017)

  • The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is seeking applications for the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence-Inventory, Tracking, and Reporting (SAFE-ITR) program. The program will fund States, units of local government, and tribal governments to implement an evidence management program to inventory, track, and report untested and unsubmitted sexual assault kits (SAKs).


More Bang for Your Buck: The Challenges of CSI Budgets (Forensic Magazine – 3/16/2017)

  • Over the last few years, we’ve seen increasingly tight budgets for CSI. The mantra of “do more with less” is repeated yearly during budget meetings. Despite these cut-backs, we’re still expected to provide high quality, effective forensic services that will stand up to court scrutiny.


New Forensic Tool Could Add Filter to Child Porn Scans (Forensic Magazine – 3/16/2017)

  • The staggering amount of data involved in searching for child pornography is a serious hurdle in hunting down pedophile rings. Much of the image searching is automated, saving time instead of manually scouring millions of items of suspicious material.