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!





Professor Develops First-ever Forensic Genetic Genealogy Certificate, Sets Sights on Future Center (Forensic – 11/13/2020)

  • The graduate certificate is most appropriate for current crime lab professionals who want to implement investigative genetic genealogy techniques into their lab but are unsure how to begin the process. It is also suited for law enforcement officers, as well as attorneys and prosecutors. (In fact, Glynn secured a 30% tuition discount for current law enforcement officers and crime lab staff who wish to enroll in the course.)



Genetic Genealogy Confirms Story of Alex Kurzem, the Nazi’s Little Jewish ‘Mascot’ (Forensic – 11/13/2020)

  • But after 11 long years, genetic genealogist Colleen Fitzpatrick has provided DNA evidence that Alex is in fact Jewish, from Koidanov, Belarus as he said, and is very closely related to a Jewish family currently living in Canada.

    “We can never get proof that he watched his family get murdered but it is historical fact that he was picked up in a forest. And now we know he is Jewish and from Koidanov. To me, that gives credibility to the rest of his story,” said renowned genealogist Fitzpatrick, who has previously exposed two stories from unrelated Holocaust survivors as fraudulent.



Forensic Genealogy Cracks Cold Cases Amid Privacy Concerns (US News – 11/14/2020)

  • Millions of people will unwrap at-home ancestry testing kits this holiday season and eagerly swab their cheeks and mail in the saliva, hoping their DNA will unlock clues about their heritage or reveal long-lost relatives.



CrimeDoor: The App That Opens Doors to Renowned Crime Scenes with Never Before Seen Augmented Reality Technology (The Press – 11/16/2020)

  • Hollywood producer and broadcast journalist, Neil Mandt, launched CrimeDoor, a unique Augmented Reality (AR) based app delivering visually immersive True Crime experiences that “open the doors” to real crime scenes. When users enter these doors to the spatial web they are brought into virtual experiences that recreate the scenes detectives encountered when they originally arrived. Created with the dedicated True Crime fanbase in mind, the app will launch with hundreds of profiles that contain in-depth, curated, unbiased news and information related to famous as well as small town murder and missing person cases around the world.



DNA Cracked 1995 Cold Case Murder of Nurse, California Police Say (ABC News – 11/17/2020)

  • Police in northern California say that DNA evidence cracked open a cold case murder from 1995 and led them to a suspect who was imprisoned in Texas.

    “In simple terms, Watkins’ DNA was under Christine Munro’s fingernails at the time of her murder,” RPD wrote.



DNA Match Leads to Arrest in 1984 Sexual Assaults (Forensic – 11/18/2020)

  • A Connecticut man has been arrested in connection with four armed sexual assaults dating to 1984 thanks to information from a genealogy database, prosecutors announced Tuesday.

    Michael Marion Sharpe, 69, was arrested Monday after the cold case unit of the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office matched his DNA with DNA from the four crime scenes, officials said.



Survey: STRmix Has Been Used in 220,000 Cases Worldwide (Forensic – 11/18/2020)

  • A recent survey indicates that STRmix—sophisticated forensic software for resolving mixed DNA profiles previously thought to be too complex to interpret—has now been used in at least 220,000 cases worldwide since its introduction in 2012.

    Conducted by New Zealand’s Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR), the survey also shows that STRmix evidence was presented in more than 80 successful admissibility hearings worldwide—double the survey number reported the year before.



New Toolkit for Capturing How COVID-19 Impacts Crime (Forensic – 11/18/2020)

  • Previous research has demonstrated how crime patterns can be affected by regular seasonal factors, such as holidays and hours of darkness. However, few studies have investigated how crime within a community responds to exceptional events that can significantly disrupt everyday life, such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, the Olympics, or the COVID-19 pandemic. Preliminary evidence has linked the pandemic to increased rates of domestic violence and steep declines in other forms of crime.



GBI Exhumes Body of Deacon Murdered in 1985 (AJC – 11/18/2020)

  • Agents exhumed the body Wednesday morning to search for DNA on the remains, such as under the fingernails. If Harold Swain scratched the killer in the fight, the DNA could still be there.