May 05 2017

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!


This week in forensic science header

DNA Test for Finding Ancestors Raises Privacy Concerns (NBC Bay Area – 4/28/2017)

  • A DNA test that’s designed to reveal family history also requires users to give up their rights to their DNA data. One consumer says the contract is too broad for him to continue with the service.


Mobiles to Offer Crime Scene Access to Fingerprint Database (The Scotsman – 4/29/2017)

  • Fingerprints left at murder scenes could soon be checked against a national biometrics database using a mobile phone under plans being considered by Police Scotland.


Behind the Scenes: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab (The Daily Times – 4/30/2017)

  • Scraping clothing for microscopic evidence, firing handguns for bullet comparisons, examining the chemical makeup of a variety of drugs — these are but a few of the duties the forensic scientists at the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation might handle on a given day.


Questions Surround Proposed Victim Rights Amendment ( – 4/30/2017)

  • Victims would have more say in criminal prosecutions if voters approve a proposed state constitutional amendment, but critics say the plan could weaken the rights of defendants, slow prosecutions and increase the workload in understaffed district attorney offices.


Florida Passes Bill to Reform Eyewitness Identification Procedures (Forensic Magazine – 5/1/2017)

  • A new bill passed Friday by the Florida legislature aims to improve the accuracy of eyewitness identifications in the state by tightening lineup procedures, offering more specific instructions for both administrators of photo lineups and eyewitnesses to whom the lineups are presented. The bill also outlines protocol for noncompliance with procedures, allowing courts and juries to make informed decisions about the reliability of an eyewitness identification presented during trial.


Over 20 Years, Nebraska Prison Officials Let 73 Inmates Defy law by Not Submitting DNA Samples (Omaha World-Herald – 5/2/2017)

  • For the past 20 years, Nebraska corrections officials have allowed more than 70 prisoners to defy state law — and potentially delay justice — by refusing to submit a DNA sample that could help authorities clear unsolved crimes.


Archaeologists Hunt for Remains of Anglo Saxon King Saint Edmund Underneath a Tennis Court (Mirror – 5/2/2017)

  • The ninth century ruler is believed to have been killed by Viking raiders after refusing to denounce his Christianity – and later gave his name to Bury St Edmunds


DNA of Ancient Skeleton Linked to Modern Indigenous Peoples (Smithsonian – 5/1/2017)

  • A new study has established a genetic link between a 10,300-year-old man and native groups living in the Pacific Northwest today


Conservationists See DNA Barcoding as Crucial Method for Combating Poaching (Seeker – 5/2/2017)

  • The method, which uses short DNA sequences to identify species, is fast becoming one of the most effective courtroom tools to prosecute wildlife crime.


Dead Center: Forensic ‘Body Farm’ Breaks Ground in Florida (First Coast News – 5/2/2017)

  • Body Farms: farms that are used to study not growth, but decay. Florida is getting a Body Farm that will be used to help study decay in the human body in Florida’s unique climate.


DNA Analysts from Central America Get Training at NFSTC (Forensic Magazine – 5/3/2017)

  • Honduras has a problem with mass graves and human trafficking. Years of internal strife, including mass killings by anarchic gangs, have posed a unique challenge to the country’s forensic scientists. The latest DNA breakthroughs could make the difference in giving names to unidentified bodies—and answers to the families that have waited decades for answers.


Ricketts Vows ‘Swift Action’ to Collect DNA from Inmates; Senators Consider Investigation Into Prison System (Omaha World-Herald – 5/3/2017)

  • Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said the state will take “swift action” to obtain inmates’ DNA samples in light of a World-Herald report Sunday that revealed that 73 inmates have refused to comply with state law requiring felons to submit a DNA sample.


Body of 19th Century Serial Killer Dr. H.H. Holmes to be Exhumed to Quash Rumors He Escaped the Noose (South China Morning Post – 5/4/2017)

  • The body of a 19th century serial killer is being exhumed in suburban Philadelphia at the request of his great-grandchildren, who hope identifying his remains will quell centuries-old rumours that he conned his way out of his execution and escaped from prison.


U.S. Mexican Border Crossings: DNA Deep Dive into Ancestry of the Desert Dead (Forensic Magazine – 5/4/2017)

  • But a new deep dive into the DNA of these nameless dead has indicated they have disproportionately greater Native American ancestry rather than European genetics, a team reports this week in the journal American Anthropologist.