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!




How a Jane Doe Child Case Uncovered a Serial Killer, Identified Victims and Changed the Use of DNA Forensics (ABC News – 3/19/2020)

  • The Rasmussen case helped change forensic investigations forever with the introduction of the use of genetic genealogy — a technique that has helped point to suspects in other major cases, including the Golden State Killer case.



Cellebrite to Offer Free Online Training Classes Amid Quarantine (Forensic – 3/20/2020)

  • Cellebrite is increasing its live online and on-demand training options for law enforcement and enterprise digital forensics professionals.


Man Charged in Brittany Zimmerman’s Homicide After DNA Test Finds Match to Victim’s Clothing (WKOW 27 – 3/20/2020)

  • A 53-year old drifter was charged Friday with first degree intentional homicide in the nearly twelve year old, shocking daylight killing of UW-Madison student Brittany Zimmermann.

DNA from a Discarded Cigarette Solves a 1985 Cold Case Murder (ABC News – 3/21/2020)

    • Authorities in Pensacola, Florida, have arrested a 57-year-old man — with the help of genetic genealogy testing and a cigarette — for the 1985 murder of a young mother.


Scientists Claim DNA Breakthrough can Deliver Identikit of Historic Suspects (The Sunday Post – 3/23/2020)

  • A pioneering DNA technique which gives cold case detectives an eyewitness view of historical crimes could be introduced in Scotland.


New DNA Evidence Overturns Double Murder Conviction in New Orleans (Forensic – 3/23/2020)

  • Judge Dennis Waldron has overturned the double murder conviction of Darrill Henry and ordered a new trial based on the results of new DNA evidence. Henry has consistently maintained his innocence since the time he was first arrested for the 2004 murders of an 89-year-old woman and her 67-year-old daughter in the 7th Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana.


Genealogy Company MyHeritage Donates 66,000 Swabs to Israel (The Jerusalem Post – 3/23/2020)

  • The rationale for using swabs provided by MyHeritage, according to Japhet, stemmed from the fact that oftentimes, the concentration of the virus can be very small, leading to a need for specialized swabs, which is what the company uses to help people discover their ancestral roots.


‘It’s Helpful to Tell Your Story’: Readers Recall Experiences Revealing DNA Test Secrets (The Wall Street Journal – 3/25/2020)

  •  Telling other people about a startling DNA test discovery can be a way to connect with or even help others going through similar experiences, readers said.


Maggots Are On the Case: New Method Speeds up Forensic Entomology (BioTechniques – 3/25/2020)

  • Now, a research team from the University at Albany and John Jay College of Criminal Justice (both NY, USA) have devised a new molecular maggot analysis method that is quicker, easier and less subjective than traditional methods. This technique could help to advance forensic entomology and increase its usefulness in real-life cases.


Forensic Pathologists Beware: COVID-19 Lives On In Blood After Death (The Times of Israel – 3/26/2020)

  • ‘It is more resilient in that it sticks around the dead body’: California’s Dr. Judy Melinek develops protocols for limiting exposure of medical staff to virus during autopsies