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!




Woman on a Mission to Fund DNA Cases Until All Unidentified Remains in Mississippi Get Their Names Back (Forensic – 10/22/2021)

  • Carla Davis has been funding multiple cases in her home state of Mississippi and even helped identify a possible victim of serial killer Samuel Little.



Idaho Hitchhiker Vanished 50 Years Ago. DNA Helped His Daughter Find Closure (East Idaho News – 10/23/2021)

  • A 15-year-old boy set out for the Oregon coast from Idaho in the spring of 1971, looking for “job opportunities.” His family never heard from him again. Winston Arthur Maxey III hitchhiked to Oregon and did end up in Coos Bay, the Coos County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. But a few months after leaving his home in Boise, his remains were discovered in the Englewood area near Snedden Creek in Coos Bay. Fifty years later, thanks to DNA, his body as been identified.


Serial Killer’s Victim Identified After 37 Years Through Genetic Genealogy and a DNA Match (CBS News – 10/23/2021)

  • A woman known for 37 years only as Horseshoe Harriet, one of dozen or so victims of a notorious Alaska serial killer, has been identified through genetic genealogy and a DNA match, authorities said Friday.


Verogen, Cellmark Partner to Launch UK’s First Accredited NGS Service (Forensic – 10/25/2021)

  • Verogen has announced a partnership with Cellmark Forensic Services. Cellmark is a leading provider of forensic DNA services in the United Kingdom and is the first forensic laboratory to receive ISO17025 accreditation from the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) for next-generation sequencing (NGS), also known as massively parallel sequencing (MPS), for forensic DNA analysis. This accreditation enables Cellmark to offer NGS-based forensic services to its law enforcement partners, in keeping with the stringent quality standards required of forensic laboratories.


Another Victim of Serial Killer John Wayne Gacy’s Has Been Identified Using DNA (NPR – 10/25/2021)

  • The identification of Alexander came together when the sheriff’s department teamed up with the DNA Doe Project, a nonprofit that uses genetic information to locate relatives of dead people who have not been identified. The organization compared the DNA profile from the unidentified victim’s remains to profiles on a genealogy website to find potential relatives. That led it to Alexander’s family, and Alexander’s mother and half-brother provided their DNA for comparison.

    Between the genetic testing, financial records, post-mortem reports and other information, investigators were able to confirm that the remains were Alexander’s. And determining when he was killed largely stemmed from knowing when the victim who was buried on top of him went missing.


DNA Leads to Charges for Couple in Death of Infant 30 Years After Body Discovered (NBC News – 10/26/2021)

  • Authorities arrested a North Carolina couple last week in the death of an infant found in a trash can more than three decades ago. Scott Gordon Poole, 54, and Robin Lynn Byrum, 51, have been charged with concealing the birth of a child, according to a Monday news release from the Nags Head Police Department. The couple, who are married, could face more charges upon further investigation.

    Authorities found the remains of a baby in a “trash can rack” on the morning of April 4, 1991, naming the child “Baby Doe.” Decomposition had accelerated to the point where the officers who responded to the scene were unable to determine the baby’s sex. Detectives began a re-examination of the cold case in 2019, sending a rib bone for analysis at a lab in The Woodlands, Texas, police said. Lab technicians were able to find DNA evidence on the bone and create a genealogical profile that led to Poole and Byrum.


DNA from Sitting Bull’s Hair Confirms US Man is His Great-Grandson (The Guardian – 10/27/2021)

  • A sample of Sitting Bull’s hair has helped scientists confirm that a South Dakota man is the famed 19th-century Native American leader’s great-grandson using a new method to analyse family lineages with DNA fragments from long-dead people. The study represented the first time that DNA from a long-dead person was used to demonstrate a familial relationship between a living individual and a historical figure – and offers the potential for doing so with others whose DNA can be extracted from remains such as hair, teeth or bones.


68 U.S. Forensic Labs Now Using STRmix to Interpret Complex DNA Profiles (69 WFMZ News – 10/27/2021)

  • Sixty-eight U.S. forensic laboratories are now using STRmix™ forensic software to resolve mixed DNA profiles previously considered too complex to interpret.

    The newest lab to begin using STRmix™ is the Phoenix Police Department Laboratory Services Bureau, a nationally accredited forensic lab that provides technical assistance and training, evaluates and analyzes evidence, interprets results, and provides expert testimony related to crime scene evidence.