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!




Mass DA Creates New Role for Genetic Genealogy Expert (Forensic – 5/01/2023)

    • Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan has announced that internationally recognized forensic science specialist Claire Glynn will join the office as a consultant. In this newly created role, Glynn will work with the District Attorney, prosecutors, and police partners to employ the latest technology and expand the use of state-of-the-art investigatory tools.

      Glynn, the Assistant Director of the Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science at the University of New Haven in Connecticut, will be working closely with investigators to examine and identify cases that would be strong candidates for utilizing FIGG to generate new leads and solve crimes. Glynn previously worked as a forensic scientist for one of the United Kingdom’s leading forensic science providers for UK law enforcement, Eurofins Forensic Services, which investigates some of the UK’s most challenging crimes.



New Jersey Man Who Died in Prison Linked to 1984 Killing of 19-Year-Old Girl Through DNA Evidence (FOX News – 5/01/2023)

  • Authorities say DNA evidence has proven that a man who died in prison several years ago was responsible for the 1984 murder of a 19-year-old woman whose body wasn’t found for more than a decade after she disappeared from her family home in New Jersey.

    The state attorney general and the Mercer County prosecutor’s office last week announced what they called “the conclusive identification” of Nathaniel Harvey, formerly of East Windsor, as the person responsible for the sexual assault and murder of Donna Macho.

    Macho, 19, went missing from the East Windsor home where she resided with her parents and sisters on or about Feb. 26, 1984. A Boy Scout troop leader found her skeletal remains in a wooded area in Cranbury on April 2, 1995, and her identity was confirmed by dental records.


Michigan State Police and Three Rivers Police Department Team with Othram to Identify the Suspect in the 1988 Murder of Cathy Swartz (DNASolves – 5/01/2023)

  • In December 1988, 19-year-old Cathy Sue Swartz was murdered in the apartment that she shared with her fiancé and daughter on East Hoffman Street in Three Rivers, Michigan. Cathy’s fiancé returned home from work to find her brutally murdered on their bedroom floor. Cathy’s daughter, who was nine-months-old at the time, was found unharmed in her crib. Investigators determined that it was likely that Swartz had been beaten and then stabbed to death. Investigators also noted that there were signs of attempted rape and self-defense wounds.

    Detectives with the Three Rivers Police Department engaged the Michigan State Police to assist in gathering evidence at Cathy’s apartment. Fingerprints, blood, and footprints were recovered at the crime scene. Despite the comprehensive analysis of this evidence and the exhaustive follow up on leads, the person responsible for Cathy’s murder remained a mystery.

    In 2022, the Michigan State Police submitted forensic DNA evidence from the crime scene to Othram. Othram scientists used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to develop a comprehensive genealogical profile from the DNA of the unknown contributor to the crime scene. Othram’s in-house genealogical team used the genealogical profile to produce investigative leads. Othram returned the investigative leads to the Michigan State Police and they worked with the local agency investigators to continue the investigation.



Board Releases Draft IGG Standards, Accreditation Requirements (Forensic – 5/03/2023)

  • After many months of writing and editing, the Investigative Genetic Genealogy Accreditation Board (IGGAB) has published a draft of the proposed standards for investigative genetic genealogy (IGG). The draft is available for public comment until May 30, 2023. After the close of the public comment period, the Board will review all feedback and consider edits to be made to the standards before they are finalized.

    In Summer 2022, the IGGAB launched as an independent non-profit board dedicated to developing a set of professional standards critical to the field of IGG. Members of the board include Ramapo College’s David Gurney, Parabon’s CeCe Moore, DNA Doe Project’s Margaret Press, Solved by DNA’s Michele Kennedy, Carol Rolnick of Rolnik Research, Andrew Hochreiter of Highrider Consulting and Bonnie Bossert from Consulting for Financial Services.

    The board members worked with key stakeholders and even critics of IGG to draft the standards before Advisory Board members were asked for their comments. The IGGAB Advisory Board member roster reads like a who’s who of IGG—Ramapo College’s Cairenn Binder, Intermountain Forensics’ Danny Hellwig, Idaho Innocence Project’s Greg Hampikian, The Genetic Genealogist’s Blaine Bettingerm, and more.


DNA from Victim’s Fingernails Identifies Suspect in 1992 Homicide (Forensic – 5/03/2023)

    • Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced that Jerry Lewis was indicted by a grand jury and arraigned Monday on a charge of murder in the second degree for the 1992 death of 15-year-old Nadine Slade, who was found naked and strangled with her own bra in her Far Rockaway (NY) home.

      “Any mother’s worst nightmare is to survive a child. To lose a child in such a horrific way causes unimaginable pain. Not knowing who committed the crime compounds the suffering. In the end, we hope to achieve justice for Nadine and bring closure and some measure of solace to her bereaved motherm” said Katz.

      Lewis, 58, of Shawsville, Virginia, was arraigned on an indictment charging him with murder in the second degree. Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder ordered Lewis to return to court on June 7. If convicted, Lewis faces up to 25 years-to-life in prison.




Research has Potential to Revolutionise Fingerprint Forensics (De Montfort University – 5/04/2023)

    • Forensic researchers at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) are investigating environmentally-friendly ways of developing fingerprints which could revolutionise worldwide forensic technology.

      DMU-based fingerprint researcher, Dr Kevin Farrugia, is working with West Technology Forensics in Bristol to develop solvent-less applications of fingerprint enhancement methods and assess its effectiveness against currently recommended methods used by forensic teams.



Ancient Woman’s DNA Recovered from a 20,000-Year-Old Pendant (Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News – 5/04/2023)

    • An international, interdisciplinary research team, led by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, has developed a novel method for DNA isolation from bones and teeth. Although they are generally rarer than stone tools, the scientists focused specifically on artifacts made from skeletal elements—an ancient deer tooth pendant in this case—because these are more porous and are therefore more likely to retain DNA present in skin cells, sweat, and other body fluids.

      Their research paper, “Ancient human DNA recovered from a Paleolithic pendant,” appears in Nature.



Parabon Celebrates Investigative Genetic Genealogy 5-Year Anniversary (EIN Presswire – 5/04/2023)

    • Parabon, a DNA company known worldwide for generating leads for law enforcement through its Snapshot® Advanced DNA Analysis division, is celebrating the 5-year anniversary of its groundbreaking investigative genetic genealogy (IGG) service. Since launching IGG in May 2018, Parabon has helped law enforcement agencies positively identify over 265 persons-of-interest, a rate of about one per week for the past five years. Impressively, over 180 of those identifications were of violent offenders who committed heinous crimes such as rape and/or murder.