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!




Using Phenotypic and Genotypic Data to Predict Eye Color (Forensic – 9/17/2020)

  • The lab of forensic geneticist Susan Walsh has pioneered some of the most accurate pigmentation-prediction systems currently available to anthropologists and law enforcement. But at the 31st annual ISHI conference, Walsh gave virtual audience members a sneak peak into her laboratory’s latest project—quantitatively predicting eye color from phenotypic and genotypic information.



KSP Honoring Forensic Scientists During National Forensic Science Week (WTVQ 36 – 9/21/2020)

  • Kentucky State Police is honoring forensic scientists this week for their service and dedication. Sept. 20-26 is National Forensic Science Week and KSP is recognizing its 154 lab employees.



Forensic History: The Murders that Made the Case for Orange County’s Crime Lab (Patch – 9/21/2020)

  • In an era when murder trials were a form of macabre entertainment for the masses, Orange County was home to one of the most sensational.



ISP Solves Cold Cases with New Testing Technique (KIDK 3 – 9/21/2020)

  • Matthew Gamette with Idaho State Forensic Services said molecular Forensic Molecular Genealogy is being used throughout law enforcement and plans to increase it’s use in the next few years.



After New DNA Test Identifies 46-Year-Old Eduardo Mendez as Suspect in 1994 Rape in Attleboro, DA Issues Nationwide Arrest Warrant (MASSLIVE – 9/21/2020)

  • Evidence from the 1994 crime was retested recently using modern DNA technology, according to the prosecutor. After the DNA was uploaded to a national database system, it matched to Mendez’s.



Fort Worth PD and Othram Team to Identify 1974 Murderer of Carla Walker (DNASolves – 9/22/2020)

  • In April 2020, Carla’s story was featured on Oxygen’s “The DNA of Murder with Paul Holes.” Shortly after the Carla Walker episode aired, Holes connected Fort Worth PD Detectives Leah Wagner and Jeff Bennett with Othram to discuss the case. Within weeks, Othram’s advanced DNA analysis paired with exceptional investigative work from the detectives led to the identification of a suspect.



The Science of Solving Crimes: Pasadena Police Forensic Specialists Spotlighted on Forensic Science Week (Pasadena Now – 9/22/2020)

  • Whether trying to solve home burglaries or murders, the small group of men and women who make up the Pasadena Police Departments Forensics Section work seven days, and nights, each week in their lab and in the field to apply science to criminal investigations.

    City officials took to social media Tuesday to highlight the “invaluable work and contributions” of the forensics specialist Tuesday, in the midst of Forensic Science Week, which began Sunday and ends Saturday.



Podcast: Using Genetic Genealogy DNA Databases to Solve Cold Cases (In Public Safety – 9/22/2020)

  • Genetic genealogy databases have aided law enforcement in successfully solving some of the most notorious unsolved criminal cases like the Golden State Killer. In this podcast episode, AMU criminal justice professor Jennifer Bucholtz discusses how this advanced technology works and how genetic genealogy databases may help identify unknown DNA samples of both criminals and victims. Learn more about police procedure, privacy concerns related to DNA databases, and how this technology could help solve thousands of cold cases around the country.



NYS Commission on Forensic Science Approves Use of Familial DNA Testing on Victims’ Remains (Long Island News 12 – 9/22/2020)

  • The state’s Commission on Forensic Science, which oversees state crime labs, approved the use of familial DNA testing on victims remains. Previously, it was limited to identifying suspects.
    The commission also issued permits to two private labs to conduct genetic genealogy tracing. Genetic genealogy is a procedure in which the DNA profile of an unknown crime victim is compared to profiles uploaded by consumers to public genealogy websites.



Global Survey: Majority of People Unwilling to Share DNA, Trust is Low (Forensic – 9/23/2020)

  • The largest-ever international survey on genomics found that less than half of those surveyed would share their DNA for research and medical purposes, citing trust as a major factor in their decision. The survey results, published in American Journal of Human Genetics, highlight how distrustful the public is of genomic and DNA research—something that could greatly hinder broad-based research dependent on genetic data, including forensic applications and databases.



Denim Supplier Partners with Forensic Company for Cotton Traceability (Forensic – 9/23/2020)

  • Cone Denim, a global leader in denim authenticity and sustainable innovation for more than 128 years and part of the Elevate Textiles portfolio of brands, is excited to partner with Oritain, the product and supply chain traceability specialist, to become the first denim mill to adopt the highest level of end-to-end traceability possible.



A 48,000-Year-Old Tooth that Belonged to One of the Last Neanderthals (Forensic – 9/23/2020)

  • A milk-tooth found in the vicinity of “Riparo del Broion” on the Berici Hills in the Veneto region bears evidence of one of the last Neanderthals in Italy. This small canine tooth belonged to a child between 11 and 12 that had lived in that area around 48,000 years ago. This is the most recent Neanderthal finding in Northern Italy.

    The study uncovering this tooth was carried out by a group of researchers from the Universities of Bologna and Ferrara, who have recently published a paper in the Journal of Human Evolution.



Multidisciplinary Approaches to Solving Cold Cases (EurekAlert! – 9/23/2020)

  • Forensic DNA analysis enables new and increasingly sophisticated technology for solving cold cases. Through advances in DNA sequencing and bioinformatics, this relatively new and urgent field is enabling a broad range of cold cases, including homicides and other violent crimes, to be solved. The first issue of Forensic Genomics has just been published. Click here to read the issue now.



Answers in the Bones: Forensic Anthropology in the Coroner’s Office (Smile Politely – 9/23/2020)

  • Cris Hughes is a Clinical Associate Professor in Anthropology at the University of Illinois. More specifically, she’s a forensic anthropologist. In addition to her work at the University, she volunteers her time in the Champaign County Coroner’s Office, assisting in investigations when a case requires someone with her expertise. So, what type of cases would those be?



‘It’s Our Job to Help’: The Genealogists Tracking Down Missing People After Devastating Fires (The Guardian – 9/23/2020)

  • Collins and her fellow genealogical experts are known as “search angels” and, along with the support of several administrators, they have ultimately helped to connect nearly 250 people with their family and friends.



How Neanderthals Lost Their Y Chromosome (Science Magazine – 9/24/2020)

  • Neanderthals have long been seen as uber-masculine hunks, at least compared with their lightweight human cousins, with whom they competed for food, territory, and mates. But a new study finds Homo sapiens men essentially emasculated their brawny brethren when they mated with Neanderthal women more than 100,000 years ago. Those unions caused the modern Y chromosomes to sweep through future generations of Neanderthal boys, eventually replacing the Neanderthal Y.



DNA Evidence Helps Convict Man of Killing Two Women in One of Australia’s Most Notorious Cold Cases (CNN – 9/24/2020)

  • For almost 25 years, the disappearance of three young women from a popular nightlife area in one of Australia’s biggest cities remained a cold case. Now, a man has been found guilty of two of their murders.