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!




‘This is How I’m Going to Die,’ New York City ME Recalls WTC Collapse (Newsday – 9/14/2021)

  • A key expert involved in the process of identifying the remains of World Trade Center victims recalled Tuesday how he narrowly escaped death in the collapse of the south tower in 2001 as he sprinted away and was pinned by debris and dust inside a building on West Street.



Forensic Panel Details Lessons Learned from 9/11 Attacks (Forensic – 9/15/2021)

  • On Tuesday, just days after the 20th anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history, forensic scientists who worked and are still working on identifying victims of the 9/11 attacks came together at ISHI 32 in a special panel titled, “From the Ashes- Lesson Learned from 9/11.”

    The panel comprised Bruce Budowle, UNT Center for Human Identification; Mark Desire, New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner; Alan Guisti, Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Timothy McMahon, Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory.


Parabon Recreates Egyptian Mummy Faces from Ancient DNA (Forensic – 9/15/2021)

  • At the 32nd International Symposium on Human Identification (ISHI), being held this week in Orlando, Florida, Parabon NanoLabs unveiled for the first time the predicted faces of three ancient mummies from an ancient Nile community in Egypt known as the Abusir el-Meleq. The mummy samples, estimated to be between 2,023 and 2,797 years old, were processed by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and the University of Tubingen in Germany (Schuenemann et al. 2017)1. Enzymatic damage repair was performed on each sample, after which they were sequenced with a capture assay targeting 1.24 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and aligned to the human reference genome. Parabon used the resulting whole-genome sequencing data, which is publicly available in the European Nucleotide Archive (ENA), and selected three samples with the highest quality data to analyze. The company believes this is the first time comprehensive DNA phenotyping has been performed on human DNA of this age.


Las Vegas Man Faces Murder Charges in 47-Year Cold Case in National City (NBC7 San Diego – 9/16/2021)

  • A 69-year-old man was arrested for allegedly stabbing to death a National City convenience store clerk nearly half a century ago, police said Thursday.

    Carlin Edward Cornett was arrested at his Las Vegas residence for the fatal stabbing of 22-year-old Christy Ellen Bryant 47 years ago, in 1974, according to National City Police.


Nearly 3 Decades Later, Boone County Sheriff’s Office Hopes DNA Technology Will Help Give Name to Cold Case Victim (CBS4 – 9/16/2021)

  • Nearly three decades after a farmer found the remains of a woman on the side of a Boone County road, investigators hope they are getting close to a breakthrough.

    In May of 1992, an off-duty firefighter was plowing in a field when he noticed a body face down in a few inches of water in the drainage ditch. While investigating, deputies determined that the woman had been in the ditch for between three to five days, badly deteriorating the body.


What Genetic Genealogy is Revealing About CODIS (Forensic – 9/17/2021)

  • When CODIS was established in 1994, many did not predict the almost overwhelming role it would play in the criminal justice system. The ushering in of the DNA database was a revolution at the time, one that is still going on. In the 3+ years since the Golden State Killer’s arrest, there has been another DNA revolution—forensic genetic genealogy (FGG).

    FGG is now to DNA identification what CODIS was in the 1990s, argues Colleen Fitzpatrick, president of Identifinders International LLC.



New Jersey Man Has Been Charged with Murder in 1999 Cold Case (Inside Edition – 9/17/2021)

  • No arrests had been made for the case of the murdered New Jersey teen Nancy Noga until September of this year, with the help of DNA and local detectives.



‘Woodlawn Jane Doe’ Identified After 45 Years with Genetic Genealogy (FOX45 – 9/18/2021)

  • After 45 years, Baltimore County Police say the remains of a young woman found in Woodlawn in 1976 have been identified.

    Who she was has been a mystery for decades, but now the mystery has been solved thanks to the work of police and scientists at Virginia’s Bode Technology.



DoD Still Seeks to Find Missing Service Members from World’s Battlefields (Forensic – 9/20/2021)

  • There are thousands of American service personnel missing from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Cold War. About 75% of those are in the Indo-Pacific region.

    The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency estimates that almost 39,000 are recoverable, with the others being mostly deep, at-sea losses.

    That agency is tasked with providing the fullest possible accounting for missing personnel from past conflicts to their families and the nation. The DPAA continually revises its missing count as more are found, Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan McElderry, a DPAA forensic photographer, said.



FBI to Run Multi-Lab Study on Rapid DNA Enhancements (Forensic – 9/20/2021)

  • Rapid DNA hit gigantic milestones in February and July of this year when the FBI approved two instruments from ANDE Corporation and Thermo Fisher Scientific, respectively, for use in booking stations.

    And while states are still building the infrastructure needed to use these systems, the FBI and other stakeholders are already paving a path for Rapid DNA at the crime scene and for use in CODIS.

    In a presentation at ISHI 32, Douglas Hares, Rapid DNA implementation program advisor for the FBI, announced that the agency has joined forces with the National Institutes of Justice (NIJ) to test the limitations of Rapid DNA enhancements at the crime scene in a new multi-lab study.



A Broken Frame, and DNA Traces, Led to Arrest in van Gogh Theft (The New York Times – 9/22/2021)

  • Dutch prosecutors said that DNA evidence tied a man to the thefts of a van Gogh and a Frans Hals painting; he denies the charges.



Special Report: Killing of Eugene Teens Solve 44 Years Later (KEZI– 9/23/2021)

  • Retired detectives have solved a Lane County murder mystery that began 44 years ago. It involves the shooting deaths of two teenagers from Eugene, and the killer won’t spend a single minute in prison.

    For 31 years, Kurt Wuest has been solving Lane County crimes. He’s now retired but still focuses on the ones that remain unsolved. Wuest, Chuck Tilby, and Kirk Engdall make up the Cold Case Unit. Engdall is a retired state and federal prosecutor and Tilby spent 33 years with the Eugene Police Department.