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, the Department of Justice awarded a total of $192 million to U.S. states to advance forensic science. The funding package breaks down to 13 specific grants, with an obvious focus on increasing DNA analysis throughout the nation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been linked to an estimated 110,000 firearm purchases in California and increases in individuals’ worries about violence, according to a new study by the UC Davis Violence Prevention Program (VPRP). The study looked at the intersection of the coronavirus pandemic and violence-related harms in the state.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley announced that the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office (CCPO) Sexual Assault Kit Task Force (SAKTF) was awarded a $1,000,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The funds will go towards personnel staffing, victim advocacy and research partnerships, training, and other resources. This grant, along with prior DOJ funding, will also help launch the office’s newly-formed G.O.L.D. Unit (Genetic Operations Linking DNA).
Sherry Black may have been the mother-in-law of one of the richest men in Utah, but she spent a majority of her time at her independent bookstore, B&W Billiards and Books. It was there, on Nov. 30, 2010, where the 64-year-old Black was found stabbed to death.
The case has been cold since the beginning with virtually no leads. In 2017, Parabon Nanolabs got involved, in 2018 a cold case detective with the Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake took over, and last week, police finally arrested Adam Antonio Spencer Durborow after a DNA match.
For 35 years, he was known as “John Doe.” But the hand-engraved initials on his belt buckle held a clue, even if his death and the man’s identity stumped authorities in Escambia County for all these many years.
Those initials — WT — and DNA analysis this month would help confirm the man’s identity: William Ernest Thompson.
Now the investigation into his death has been reopened.
After seven years in prison, Derrick Harris was exonerated and became a free man today. Harris was arrested in July of 2013 for an armed robbery that occurred at Hawkins House of Hamburgers. Two men held another man at gunpoint and stole his gold chain before the perpetrators fled the scene. The victim picked Harris out of a lineup after a police investigation. Harris always maintained his innocence and said he was home with his girlfriend at the time of the crime. Over the years, Harris’ co-defendant and a third-party suspect admitted to their involvement in the crime.
Earlier this year, the Porchlight Project contacted New London Chief of Police Mike Marko to offer its services to identify the remains. It was believed at the time that the bones may be evidence of a homicide. Chief Marko allowed the Porchlight Project to have the bones transferred to the labs at Bode Technology, in Lorton, Virginia, where DNA was extracted and analyzed.