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!




Police Lifted DNA from Her Trash and Charged Her with a Baby’s 1981 Killing. She Says That was Illegal. (NBC News – 3/14/2020)

  • Theresa Bentaas is fighting a murder charge by saying police should not have taken DNA from her garbage without a warrant.



Ohio Single Mom’s 1991 Cold Case Murder Solved Using DNA Uploaded to Public Genealogy Site (FOX News – 3/14/2020)

  • Police said Rees, of Akron, was identified as a suspect after a Texas company uploaded crime scene DNA to a public genealogy website.


DNA Evidence Sets Man Free After 29 Years on Death Row (Forensic – 3/16/2020)

  • Last week, Paul Hildwin accepted a plea agreement in a 1985 Hernando County murder prosecution to avoid a second death penalty trial, becoming a free man for the first time in nearly 35 years. The Court ordered Hildwin released with time served after he pled no contest to second degree murder, ending Hildwin’s long fight for justice — during which he spent nearly 30 years on Florida’s death row for a murder he always maintained he did not commit.

HSC Fort Worth to Help Identify Missing and Murdered American Indians (Fort Worth Business Press – 3/17/2020)

    • The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth (HSC) and Montana State University Billings are collaborating to use forensics to address a national epidemic of missing or murdered American Indians, HSC said in a news release.


Maggot Analysis Goes Molecular for Forensic Cases (Phys Org – 3/18/2020)

  • Building on their previous work on single-species determinations, the researchers optimized their method for multispecies analyses. They used a method called direct  in real time-high resolution  to obtain molecular information about various combinations of maggot species.


Non-Fiction Forensics: Weird Ways in Which Real-World Crimes Have Been Solved (Engineering & Technology – 3/18/2020)

  • Better than a delicious plot twist in a crime novel that’s both shocking and satisfying, some real-life crimes have been solved in the strangest of ways. In fact, some are so bizarre that they may seem like the cunning concoctions by Arthur Conan Doyle.


How Does Forensics Solve Crimes? This ’48 Hours’ Episode Shows Us (Film Daily – 3/18/2020)

  • Canada’s Highway of Tears is a stretch of 450 miles (725-kilometres) spanning from Prince George to Prince Rupert, British Columbia. The disappearances and murders that have occurred on this stretch of highway began in the 1970s. CBS’s 48 Hours gives us a rare insight into the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s (RCMP) uncovering of a serial killer whose true list of horrors we may never know.


9 Ancient Objects that have had DNA Tests (Mental Floss – 3/18/2020)

  • Scientists have studied DNA preserved within an array of centuries-old relics, from human remains, to fossilized rodents’ nests, to the pages of medieval manuscripts. Here are eight objects that have undergone DNA testing and yielded fascinating revelations about the history of life on Earth.


DNA Analysis Reveals Just How Intertwined Ancient Human Lineages Are (NewScientist – 3/19/2020)

  • Ancient human populations in Africa probably mixed far more than we previously thought. That is just one of the revelations about our genetic history that has been uncovered by sequencing the genomes of people from populations previously underrepresented in human genetic studies.


Police use DNA, Genealogy to Arrest Suspect in 1985 Slaying (ABC News – 3/19/2020)

  • A Florida police department says it solved a 35-year-old homicide by using DNA to find a relative of the alleged killer and then creating a family tree to track him down