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!




Serial Killer Peter Tobin Caught by Brave Forensic Expert Who Went Under Floorboards to Get DNA (Mirror – 11/1/2019)

  • British Police: Our Toughest Cases will open up on the lengths forensic specialists went to in order to help convict British serial killer Peter Tobin for the murder of Angelika Kluk



Family of Irma Palasics, Brutally Killed 20 Years Ago, Call for New DNA Testing in Search for Killer ( – 11/2/2019)

  • As Mrs Palasics’ family prepare for the 20th anniversary of her death, they hope new forensic procedures utilising the DNA police currently hold could provide the breakthrough needed to finally crack the cold case.


Can Forensics Help Keep Endangered Rosewood Off the Black Market (ScienceNews – 11/3/2019)

  • Because many species are involved and not all are protected by regulation from overharvesting, identifying trafficked wood is a challenge. Scientists are trying to help by applying techniques — including microscopy and chemical and genetic analyses — that might allow easier identification of wood. The genetic approach, called DNA barcoding, is being tested for other endangered species as well, including sharks, elephants and parrots.


Utah Cold Case Coalition Announces First U.S. Nonprofit Forensics Lab (DesertNews – 11/4/2019)

  • Porter said the idea of the coalition starting its own lab came about because of the high fees private forensic labs typically charge.


A Solution to a Hairy Problem in Forensic Science (NIST – 11/5/2019)

  • In an effort to make hair comparison a more useful technique for investigating crimes, scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a new way to dissolve hair proteins without destroying them. Once in solution, the protein molecules from two hairs can be analyzed and compared, yielding objective, quantitative results.


Your DNA Profile is Private? A Florida Judge Just Said Otherwise (The New York Times – 11/5/2019)

  • Privacy experts say a warrant granted in Florida could set a precedent, opening up all consumer DNA sites to law enforcement agencies across the country.



DNA Hit Leads to Murder Plea and Life Sentence in Cold Case: Prosecutors (Fox News – 11/6/2019)

  • The office said Facio pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in August. This, after DNA yielded key information in the case after many years and investigative dead ends.



One-Legged Skeleton Found Under Russian Dance Floor is Napoleon’s ‘Lost General’, DNA Tests Confirm (The Telegraph – 11/6/2019)

  • Then in July, a team of French and Russian archaeologists said they unearthed what they believed to be Gudin’s missing remains during a dig in the Russian city of Smolensk, 250 miles west of Moscow.



Forensic Experts Exhume Remains of Victims of El Salvador’s Civil War (International Business Times – 11/6/2019)

  • An international team of forensic experts on Wednesday exhumed the remains of 11 people killed by soldiers during the infamous El Mozote massacre in El Salvador’s 1980-1992 civil war.

    The new find will be part of a case against soldiers of the Atlacatl Battalion who carried out the December 1981 massacre that killed — according to official figures — 986 people, including 558 children, on suspicion of aiding leftist guerillas.



DNA Analysis of Ancient Rome Reveals a Cosmopolitan Megacity (Discover Magazine – 11/7/2019)

  • A new collection of DNA from ancient Romans spanning 12,000 years shows how the population of the empire’s capital shifted along with its politics. Published in Science, the timeline is one of the first to examine what genetic information from archaeological digs says about the region after the time of hunter-gatherers and early farmers.