Nov 02 2018
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!
On the DNA Trail of the Platypus (Phys Org – 10/26/2018)
And just like the criminal who inevitably leaves behind traces of their DNA, we can now harness advances in genetic sequencing technologies to detect species in their habitats without even having to see the animal.
And we’re using this technology to launch the largest-scale investigation of platypus populations ever undertaken.
Who Am I? Hunt for Heritage Drives Chinese to DNA Tests (Phys Org – 10/26/2018)
- A combination of factors—a lack of formal records or destruction during China’s wars and the Cultural Revolution—have meant there are few ways for Chinese to trace their genealogy in the ethnically diverse country.
But with a growing middle-class, an increasing number are now keen on tracing their roots, and DNA testing companies are cashing in.
Arkansas State Crime Lab Clears More Than 1,300 Backlogged Rape Kits (THV11 – 10/25/2018)
The Arkansas State Crime Lab completed testing of a backlog of over 1,300 rape kits that may have gone untested for almost 10 years.
Crown Prosecution Service Head: Justice System Can’t Cope (The Guardian – 10/27/2018)
Alison Saunders warns that police and the CPS are too under-resourced to tackle crimes efficiently
DNA, Fingerprint Match: How FBI Uncovered Bomb Suspect’s ID (The Washington Post – 10/27/2018)
In the end, prosecutors who charged Sayoc with five federal crimes Friday say the fervent President Donald Trump supporter unwittingly left behind a wealth of clues, affording them a critical break in a coast-to-coast investigation into pipe bomb mailings that spread fear of election-season violence.
Scientists Extract DNA from Seabiscuit’s Hooves to Figure Out How He Was So Fast (Smithsonian – 10/29/2018)
Eighty years ago, the horse famously trounced Triple Crown winner War Admiral. Did genetics make him an unlikely success?
Severity of Crime Increases Jury’s Belief in Guilt (Forensic Magazine – 10/29/2018)
The more severe a crime, the more evidence you should have to prove someone did it. But a new Duke study, appearing Oct. 29 in Nature Human Behavior, has shown that the type of alleged crime can increase jurors’ confidence in guilt.
Green Bay’s All-Women Unit is the New Wave of CSI (WBAY2 – 10/29/2018)
For the first time, the team of people helping find and analyze evidence from crime scenes in Green Bay is made up of all women — and they’re all civilians.
DNA Doe Project: Two Retired California Doctors Help Detectives Solve Cold Cases Using Forensic DNA (FOX 11 – 10/29/2018)
Two retired doctors are using DNA and genealogy to identify victims and unmask killers from the comfort of their own homes.
OSP Captain Describes Oregon’s DNA Backlog Like ‘Whac-a-Mole’ Game (KATU2 – 10/29/2018)
Oregon State Police (OSP) decided to suspend DNA analysis for property crime evidence in December 2015, including the highly successful High Throughput Property Crimes (HPTC) pilot program. The decision came as state lawmakers mandated the agency to prioritize Sexual Assault Forensics Evidence (SAFE) kits, commonly used in rape or sex abuse investigations.
DNA Testing Begins to Identify Lion Air Crash Victims (The Jakarta Post – 10/30/2018)
National Police deputy chief Comr. Gen. Ari Dono Sukamto said that at least 15 forensic doctors and DNA experts were working to identify the body parts that the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) had recovered from the Java Sea.
How Sniffer Dogs Find Cremated Human Remains After Wildfires (National Geographic – 10/30/2018)
- Specially-trained dogs, one of which recently searched for Amelia Earhart’s body, use their marvelous noses to find human cremains.
Microbes Could Be Our Newest Tool to Help Catch a Killer (HuffPost – 10/30/2018)
A type of bacteria that continues to live on in human bodies may give investigators a wide range of clues.
Crime Scene to Court Room: Implementing Nuclear Forensic Science (Forensic Magazine – 10/30/2018)
- All evidence tells a story, and when the evidence is nuclear or radioactive material found at a crime scene, nuclear forensics science is a key to understanding the story.
To support Member States in strengthening their nuclear forensic science capacity, the IAEA, in collaboration with the Hungarian National Nuclear Forensic Laboratory, held a practical training course 1-5 October 2018 in Budapest, Hungary.
Forensic Scientists Battle to Identify South Africa’s Dead (Bloomberg – 10/30/2018)
- The huge number of unidentified bodies passing through South Africa’s mortuaries is a burden on the state and presents a moral dilemma to forensic scientists. Once people are buried in grasslands outside the city, after three months at most, their chances of ever being identified are close to zero.
UK Wrestles With Forensic Science Language, Court Presentation (Forensic Magazine – 10/31/2018)
- American judges, juries, lawyers and forensic scientists have been wrestling with the presentation of evidence and testimony in courtrooms.
Their forensic science counterparts in Britain are also tackling many of the same issues, from the broad-based to the hyper-detailed.
FBI Forensics Hits Hollywood Speed, Researcher Says (Forensic Magazine – 11/1/2018)
- That the FBI laboratory was able to identify a suspect so quickly was a tribute to advances in technology and the resources the government brought to the table, according to Lee, who was formerly director of research and development of the California Department of Justice DNA Lab.
“You do get the Hollywood aspect with this case,” Lee said. “In a real case, the quality of the evidence usually is not as good as what they show in Hollywood.”
Bed Bugs Preserve Full Human Blood DNA Profiles for 3 Days (Forensic Magazine – 11/1/2018)
- The bloodsuckers scuttling in the shadows of bedrooms and apartments and dwellings across the world could be a huge forensic trove of full autosomal DNA profile of the humans on which they feed, according to a new study in the journal Forensic Science International.
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Considerations for the Use of Forensic Genetic Genealogy to Assist in Identifying Australia’s Unidentified Human Remains