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!




Prosecutors Agree to New DNA Testing in ‘Serial’ Case (The New York Times – 3/10/2022)

  • Adnan Syed, who is serving life in prison in Maryland for the 1999 killing of Hae Min Lee, still insists on his innocence and is seeking a sentence reduction.



DNA from Cigarette Butt Used to Identify Suspect in 1995 Killing of Washington Woman (NBC News – 3/10/2022)

  • The cold case murder of a Washington woman has been solved over two decades later thanks to DNA evidence from a cigarette butt left at the scene, authorities announced Wednesday.

    Douglas Keith Krohne, who died in 2016 of accidental causes, has been identified as the suspect in the 1995 killing of Patricia Lorraine Barnes, Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office Detective Mike Grant said during a news conference.


DNA Analysis Identifies Las Vegas Homicide Victim as Man Missing Since 1996 (NBC3 News LV – 3/10/2022)

  • DNA analysis has led investigators to identify the remains of a homicide victim found in Las Vegas as a man who went missing more than 25 years ago.

    Las Vegas Metropolitan Police say the remains were found in 2001 near Interstate 15 and U.S. 93, by Apex Road.

    An autopsy determined the man died by homicide, but the remains could not be identified at the time.

    Police sent those remains this past October to Othram Labs, which performed genome sequencing and genealogical work at the request of LVMPD cold case homicide investigators.


OSBI: Unidentified Woman Murdered in 1995 Positively Identified Through Forensic Genetic Genealogy (Oklahoma’s News 4 – 3/11/2022)

  • The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) says the remains of a woman found partially buried in Caddo County in 1995 have now been identified as 20-year-old Katrina Bentivegna of Midwest City.

    The OSBI Cold Case Unit submitted Bentivegna’s DNA to Parabon Nanolabs in March of 2021.

    Parabon submitted results back to the OSBI with possible genetic matches in August of 2021. Agents then contacted possible relatives requesting DNA samples to compare to Bentivegna’s.



How DNA and Genealogy are Helping CMPD Solve Cold Cases (WFAE 90.7 – 3/15/2022)

  • A series of sexual assaults in south Charlotte and Pineville put the area on edge in the 1990s. The suspect became known as the Myers Park rapist. He’d sneak into houses in the middle of the night, kidnap girls and assault them. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police identified the man they believe was the rapist in December. In all the years detectives spent investigating these cases, his name had never come up. But thanks to DNA and genealogy, detectives say they were finally able to identify him.


Head Found Nearly 30 Years Ago in Illinois Identified as Remains of Missing Tennessee Woman (NBC News – 3/16/2022)

  • Investigators on Friday identified a woman whose remains were found nearly three decades ago in southern Illinois.

    The head of the woman previously known only as Ina Jane Doe was found by two girls on Jan. 27, 1993, along a roadway in Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park near Ina.

    The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said the woman was Susan Lund of Clarksville, Tennessee, who was 25 years old when she disappeared on Dec. 24, 1992. She had gone to walk to a grocery store but never returned home. When the woman’s head was found in the state park about a month later, investigators were unable to identify her.


New Forensics Technology Can Detect Specks of Blood on Dark Clothing within Seconds (Sky News – 3/16/2022)

  • Developed by the Metropolitan Police, the new infrared (IR) technology speeds up the process, spotting blood almost immediately in some circumstances, even if it is less than a millimetre in diameter. The new technology revolutionises the ability to search dark clothing for blood stains through a purpose-built, super high-resolution camera.Using the camera, forensics examiners are able to view a large area of material at one time – the equivalent to an A4 sheet of paper, rather than poring over small sections with a light. The blood appears black while the dye in many items of clothing makes them appear fluorescent, creating a negative image.


An Unidentified Child Found Dead in 1960 was Dubbed ‘Little Miss Nobody’. Authorities Now Know Her Name (The Washington Post – 3/16/2022)

  • A schoolteacher was on a walk in an Arizona desert in July 1960, surveying the ground for noteworthy rocks, when he made a startling discovery: the remains of a little girl.

    Decomposed and partially buried in the sandy terrain lay a small figure dressed in white shorts, a checkered blouse and adult-sized flip-flops that had been cut to fit her small feet, authorities said. Her fingernails and toenails were painted red.

    Detectives called to the scene believed she was around 7 years old. They named her “Little Miss Nobody.”

    Now, 61 years after sheriff’s deputies in Yavapai County, Ariz., north of Phoenix, found the little girl, law enforcement officials announced Tuesday that they have identified her through DNA analysis. Her name is Sharon Lee Gallegos, and she was kidnapped at 4 years old near her home in New Mexico.

‘You Bring Release’: DNA Evidence Leads North Carolina Investigators to Suspect in 30-Year-Old Cold Case (WXII 12 – 3/17/2022)

  • A man from Mississippi is charged with murder in the death of a woman in Surry County 30 years ago. Nona Stamey Cobb was found dead on I-77 in Surry County on July 7, 1992.

    Special agents from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation Cold Case Investigation Unit and investigators from the Surry County Sheriff’s Office started re-examining physical evidence in the case in April 2021, according to a news release.

    Investigators worked with Dr. Colleen Fitzpatrick, founder of Identifiers International LLC, on the case. Fitzpatrick said the company specializes in forensic genetic genealogy in a Zoom interview with WXII 12 News Thursday.