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!





Five Women Lead Renowned Forensic Anthropology Center (The University of Tennessee Knoxville – 3/26/2021)

  • The FAC conducts national and international forensic investigations, trains law enforcement officers at every level in human remains identification, and oversees the Anthropology Research Facility—commonly known as the Body Farm—with as many as 200 decomposing bodies or skeletal remains. The center’s groundbreaking research on what happens to the human body after death has helped solve previously unsolvable crimes. And on top of it all the women who lead the FAC provide undergraduate and graduate students with invaluable hands-on experience in forensic anthropology, preparing them for the field in ways that few other university programs can.



Texas Cheerleader Also Solves Crimes as Forensic Scientist (ABC13 – 3/26/2021)

  • On weekdays, you can find Emily in her white lab coat carefully analyzing DNA at the Texas Department of Public Safety’s crime lab. On Sundays though, you can find her on the football field.


Bill Would Limit Use of DNA Databases to Solve Crimes in MD (Southern Maryland Online – 3/26/2021)

  • A first-in-the-nation bill, which would limit when law enforcement can search consumer genealogical databases in connection with a crime, unanimously passed in the Maryland House last week.

    HB240 would ensure that databases storing genetic information of individuals, like GEDmatch, provide notice to their consumers that their DNA could be utilized for this purpose and obtain consent from them.


Man Arrested in 1979 Killing after DNA Match (ABC57 – 3/27/2021)

  • A Kansas man was arrested and charged with murder in the 1979 death of a woman in Colorado after a DNA profile linked him to the crime, officials said.

    James Herman Dye, 64, faces first-degree murder charges in the death of Evelyn Kay Day, who was sexually assaulted and strangled in November 1979, according to an arrest affidavit.


Largest-Ever DNA Mapping of the Philippines Shows 5 Major Immigration Waves Over 50 Millennia (SciTechDaily – 3/27/2021)

  • Over 50 millennia, at least five major immigration waves have successively populated the Philippines, the most comprehensive survey of genetic variations in the country to date shows. This Uppsala University study, published in the scientific journal PNAS, comprises 2.3 million DNA markers from some 1,000 individuals.


Study Provides First Evidence of DNA Collection from Air (Forensic – 3/31/2021)

  • Researchers from Queen Mary University of London have shown for the first time that animal DNA shed within the environment can be collected from the air.

    Living organisms such as plants and animals shed DNA into their surrounding environments as they interact with them. In recent years, eDNA has become an important tool to help scientists identify species found within different environments. However, whilst a range of environmental samples, including soil and air, have been proposed as sources of eDNA until now most studies have focused on the collection of eDNA from water.

    In this study, the researchers explored whether eDNA could be collected from air samples and used to identify animal species. They first took air samples from a room which had housed naked mole-rats, a social rodent species that live in underground colonies, and then used existing techniques to check for DNA sequences within the sampled air.



The McDonald County Sheriff’s Office has Partnered with Othram and SEMO Anthropology to Identify Grace Doe (DNASolves – 3/31/2021)

  • Grace Doe, now identified as Shawna Beth Garber, was McDonald County’s only unsolved unidentified persons case for 30 years



On a Forensic Mission to Give Jane and John Does Back Their Names (KUOW – 3/31/2021)

  • In 1983, then 14-year-old Wendy ran away from home in Denver, Colorado. A year later her remains were recovered in South King County.

    But the identity of her remains were unknown for 35 years. They were referred to as “Bones 10.” What was known is that the remains were of someone murdered by a notorious serial killer. Her identity was eventually discovered through the work of Dr. Katherine Taylor, a forensic anthropologist for King County and the state of Washington.