In a commentary published yesterday (May 28) in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, three bioethicists from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) argued that law enforcement and genealogy websites should be transparent about how people’s genetic information could be used in forensic investigations. The authors cautioned that this new method might be better used as an “investigative tool” rather than the primary way police convict people.
Jun 01 2018
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!
Soil Forensics Study: 100 Percent Accuracy With One-Two Method (Forensic Magazine – 5/25/2018)
Matching soil on a killer’s shoes to link them to an outdoors crime scene or disposal site can be up to 100 percent accurate with a combination of two lab analyses, according to a new study in the journal Forensic Science International.
Retiring Crime-Lab Chief Helped Crack Cold Cases, Catch Rapists, Elevate Forensic Science (myPalmBeachPost – 5/25/2018)
After nearly three decades of work in the crime lab, providing insight, creating best practices and continually making sure the department has the top technology available in their field, Crouse is retiring Tuesday as the director of the sheriff’s office crime laboratory.
How DNA and a Lot of Hope is Helping Defense Department Find New York War Heroes (PressConnects – 5/26/2018)
These homecomings, and those of the missing in other conflicts, were the result of a centralized effort by the Defense Department, intensified in recent years by the formation of a single agency — the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency — to coordinate the effort to recover missing personnel from past wars and conflicts and from countries around the world.
Could DNA Technology Help Identify Body from Dumpster Fire Nearly 20 Years Ago? (Sacramento Bee – 5/26/2018)
Her body was found in a Sacramento dumpster fire almost 20 years ago. All of her hair, clothing and skin had been burned away, and police have long since struggled to identify the young woman. But investigators are looking to change that through the use of specialized DNA technology.
Parabon provided police with a composite image of what the victim may have looked like at 25 years old using individual predictions of ancestry, eye and skin color, freckling and face shape based on the evidence collected in 2001.
Peruvian Scientists Use DNA to Trace Origins of Inca Empires (The Japan Times – 5/27/2018)
Researchers in Peru believe they have traced the origins of the Incas — the largest pre-Hispanic civilization in the Americas — through the DNA of the modern-day descendants of their emperors.
Forensic Experts Want Volunteers to Donate Their CORPSES to Britain’s First Body Farm (Daily Mail – 5/28/2018)
Scientists are hoping to study on Britain’s first ‘body farm’ if plans for the outdoor, open-air grave site are accepted.
Ministers are reported to be looking into the possibility of opening a body farm so taphonomy – the science of decomposition – may be practiced.
Maybe DNA Can’t Answer All Our Questions About Heredity (WIRED – 5/28/2018)
- In his new book, She Has Her Mother’s Laugh, Zimmer takes readers on a tale through time and technology, from the inbred Holy Roman Empire to the birthplace of American eugenics to the Japanese lab where scientists are reprogramming skin cells into eggs and sperm. But Zimmer says it’s not a book about genetics. It’s a book about the question genetics was invented to answer. Namely, how did the past become the present, and how will the present shape the future?
The Ethics Behind Using Genealogy Websites to Find Crime Suspects (LiveScience – 5/29/2018)
As State Clears Sex Assault Backlog, Teams Work to Empower Victims (WBAY2 – 5/29/2018)
- News of an arrest or hit in a years-old sexual assault case can open old wounds for a victim. In some of these cases, victim advocates say they need to be there for them when the news is delivered.
NIH Bioethicists: Use Genetic Genealogy in Crime Solving – But Focus on Informed Consent (Forensic Magazine – 5/30/2018)
Informed consent is the first, and most key, safeguard to forensic genealogy searches to solve long-unsolved crimes, according to three bioethicists from the National Institutes of Health. The NIH take: most users do not yet know of the potential of the forensic use of their genes, even if provisions include it in the terms of service.
Russian Authorities Asked New Zealand Police to Search DNA Database in Hunt for Russian Serial Killer (NZ Herald – 5/30/2018)
Russian authorities hunting a serial killer asked New Zealand police to search their DNA database in a bid to catch the dangerous and wanted murderer.
The request is one of at least 38 for DNA searches made to New Zealand police from international law enforcement agencies hunting foreign killers and criminals since a law change in 2016.
3,500 Rape Kits are Overdue for Analysis in Alaska (KTUU2 – 5/30/2018)
- A backlog of nearly 3,500 completed sexual assault evidence kits could be resolved in two years with $2.75 million added to the state’s capital budget by the Alaska Legislature before it adjourned earlier this month.The evidence in the test kits — tissue swabs, clothing, hair, skin, blood — were gathered by investigators around Alaska according to state Department of Public Safety officials. But the kits remained in the custody of troopers and local departments — 53 percent are held by Anchorage police. The non-analyzed kits came off the state’s priority list because they weren’t needed to prosecute criminals, or there wasn’t the money budgeted to run the tests.
Iceland’s Founding Fathers Underwent a Rapid, 1000-Year Genetic Shift (Science – 5/31/2018)
- If modern Icelanders came face-to-face with their founding fathers, they’d be hard-pressed to see much family resemblance, according to a new study. That’s because today’s Icelanders have a much higher proportion of Scandinavian genes than their distant ancestors did, suggesting the islanders underwent a remarkably rapid genetic shift over the past thousand years.
How an Unproven Forensic Science Became a Courtroom Staple (New York Times – 5/31/2018)
- Testimony from bloodstain-pattern analysts is now accepted in courts throughout the country. But in recent years, some scientists and legal scholars have questioned the training of these experts, as well as the validity of the field itself. How did a niche, unproven discipline gain a hold in the American justice system and proliferate state by state?
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS? SUBSCRIBE TO THE ISHI BLOG BELOW!