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!
Nine years ago today, Superstorm Sandy ripped through the East Coast of the United States, ultimately causing $65 billion in damage. In the town of New Haven, Connecticut—which incurred about $360 million of damages—residents were surprised to witness the felling of “Lincoln Oak,” a 103-year-old oak tree in the New Haven Green planted on the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.
What residents saw the next day while assessing the damage surprised them even more—skeletal remains were apparent in the roots of the now-upended tree.
The Dayton Police Department is expanding the Cold Case Unit. The unit will now have three full time detectives—instead of one—and their work will expand to include both unsolved homicide and sexual assaults. They will continue to utilize advancements in technology such as DNA, forensic genealogy, computer forensics, etc., to help solve these homicide and sexual assault cases.
The Identifinders team has identified Bibb County, Alabama’s beloved 1961 John Doe as Daniel Paul ‘Danny’ Armantrout, born December 28, 1945 in Miami, Florida.
His identity was announced live Saturday, October 30 at 7PM Central on Gray Hughes Investigates. Gray and his YouTube audience of “Freaks” generously funded the expensive and time consuming investigation that required almost a year of work to gain viable DNA for a SNP profile.
Danny Armantrout’s identification represents the oldest case of a National Center for Missing and Exploited Children subject ever solved by genetic genealogy.
A UK neutron facility has been used to develop a technique to help better understand human skeletal remains that have been subject to heating.
Just as we do today, our ancient ancestors practiced cremation in their funeral rites, which means that skeletal remains are often found in a burned state. However, determining whether the bone’s heating is the result of cremation practices or even ritualistic cannibalism is difficult to determine.
Researchers have used the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s ISIS Neutron and Muon Source to develop a new technique for archeological or forensic investigators to tackle this problem. The team, led by the University of Coimbra, Portugal, used the ISIS facility to bounce neutrons off samples of human bone subjected to varying degrees of heating.
Florida recently passed a law governing DNA samples. The Act places several restrictions on the use, retention, and sharing of DNA samples. Those that violate the Act may face criminal liability. Requirements under the Act are tied to “DNA samples” which include any human biological specific from which DNA can be extracted or the extracted DNA. To process a person’s DNA, entities must first obtain express consent. The Act defines “express consent” as an “authorization…evidenced by an affirmative action demonstrating an intentional decision.” With consent, there must also be a clear and prominent disclosure describing the manner of collection, use, retention, maintenance, or disclosure of a DNA sample. The notice must also describe the purpose of processing or the use of the DNA.
The disappearance of Gabby Petito shined a spotlight on missing persons cases. But forensic anthropologists at the University of South Florida have fought to get funding and solve these types of cases for more than a decade.
The goal, moving forward, is that cases that are decades old will get a new life and one day closure for families.
Florida officials announced on Thursday a breakthrough arrest in the 1996 cold case murder of a man who was brutally stabbed 73 times — thanks to DNA found on several beer cans.
Terence Paquette, 31, was found murdered on Feb. 3, 1996, in the bathroom of the Lil’ Champ convenience store on Clarcona Ocoee Road in Orlando, where he worked. His throat was slit and cash was missing from the store, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said.
The case remained unsolved for 25 years until advances in genetic genealogy helped investigators hone in on the suspect, 54-year-old Kenneth Robert Stough, Jr.
The lab uses DNA sequencing with hundreds of thousands of markers. As a result, the lab is able to recover and analyze DNA in low quantities, and from contaminated or degraded samples. Othram gives people an opportunity to help solve cases through DNASolves, a DNA database its lab uses, and a website to share information about cases it is working on.
Blood-sample cards sit on a desk at the Armed Forces Repository of Specimen Samples for the Identification of Remains at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Jan. 30, 2019. (Dedan Dials/U.S. Air Force) Almost a quarter-century later, DNA technology has only gotten better, and no American service member killed in action over the past 30 years has been buried as unknown.
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