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!




9/11 Victim Identified Through DNA Testing: Medical Examiner (Patch – 10/18/2019)

  • Officials identified the 1,645th 9/11 World Trade Center victim. More than 1,100 people have not yet been identified.



Othram Launches Forensic Genealogy Service for Law Enforcement (Homeland Security Today – 10/19/2019)

  • Othram announced the formation of an in-house forensic genealogy research team, including Anthony Lukas Redgrave and Lee Bingham Redgrave, pioneers in the emerging field of forensic genetic genealogy.


To Find Rapists, Candice Bridge Examines What Condoms Leave Behind (Chemical & Engineering News – 10/20/2019)

  • The forensic scientist is cataloging lubricants as a way to identify sexual predators


US Takes Steps to Require DNA Samples from Asylum-Seekers (The Washington Post – 10/21/2019)

  • The Trump administration is planning to collect DNA samples from asylum-seekers and other migrants detained by immigration officials and will add the information to a massive FBI database used by law enforcement hunting for criminals, a Justice Department official said.


Forgery Forensics: How the Smithsonian Helped Identify Two Stolen Columbus Letters (CBS News – 10/21/2019)

  • Using modern technology to examine 500-year-old documents


DNA, Genealogy Research Lead to Teen’s Arrest in Sex Assault (U.S. News & World Report – 10/21/2019)

  • Authorities say they used DNA testing and genealogy research to arrest a teenager in the gunpoint sexual assault of a woman in a suburban Philadelphia park.



Nome Has Test Results from Sex Assault Kits, Some More than 10 Years Old. Now It Must Find a Way to Investigate the Cases. (Alaska Public Media – 10/21/2019)

  • One hundred and fourteen sexual assault kits have been tested and returned to Nome Police Department through the Alaska Crime Lab Capital Fund Project.

    Many of the returned kits need some type of investigation, but right now NPD said they don’t have the experienced investigators required to do that.



What is Forensic Entomology? (AgriLife Today – 10/22/2019)


Forensic Genetic Genealogy Leads Authorities to Suspect in 1984 Cold Case (WISN 12 – 10/22/2019)

  • In March 2019, investigators turned to forensic genetic genealogy and evidence was sent to a private lab to develop a DNA profile, Ozaukee County Sheriff James Johnson said.

    The DNA profile was then uploaded to a public genetic genealogy database to build genetic genealogy of the suspect.



New Insect Database to Help with Forensic Investigations (Phys Org – 10/23/2019)

  • The database—thought to be the first of its kind in the world—uses chemical profiles from the waxy coating on the outside of insects and will provide a library for forensic entomologists to refer to when investigating cases.



Forensic Anthropology Students from Across Africa Learn to Analyse Bones (BBC News – 10/23/2019)

  • A group of forensic experts from Argentina has been in South Africa helping to train doctors and other professionals from across Africa on how to best find and excavate human remains.



Maloney Hails Passage of Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act (Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney – 10/23/2019)

  • The House of Representatives passed Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney’s (D-NY) H.R. 777 – Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2019. This bipartisan bill was introduced with Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO) in January.



Police Were Cracking Cold Cases with a DNA Website. Then the Fine Print Changed. (NBC News – 10/23/2019)

  • Overnight, the number of profiles available to law enforcement dropped from more than 1 million to zero. While the pool has grown slowly since then, as more people click a police-shield icon on GEDmatch allowing authorities to see their profile, cases remain more difficult to solve, investigators say.



Washington Gets Nearly $5.3 Million to Test Backlogged Rape Kits (K5 News – 10/23/2019)

  • More backlogged rape kits will be tested and Washington crime labs will be improved thanks to four U.S. Department of Justice grants.