DNA of long-dead sailors may solve great Canadian mystery

Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 11:51 AM – Long after the doomed Franklin Expedition came to its fated end, we’re a little closer to identifying the remains of some of the sailors who perished along with their captain.
John Franklin set out for the Northwest Passage in 1845, with 129 men aboard his ships, HMS Terror and HMS Erebus. Now, scientists say they’ve put together DNA profiles from the remains of some of the lost crew, a crucial step toward determining who they were.

DNA breakthrough for unknown soldiers

The chances of identifying some of the 35,000 Australian soldiers who lie unknown in foreign fields are a step closer with a dramatic DNA breakthrough by Sydney scientists.
The Australian Army’s Unrecovered War Casualties unit and NSW Health Pathology’s Forensic Science Service have been working with more that 300 sets of remains thought to be Australian servicemen for the past few months.

Gov. Eric Holcomb signs DNA collection bill

Gov. Eric Holcomb signed into law Friday a bill that allows the collection of DNA from those arrested on felony charges.
Senate Enrolled Act 322 requires anyone arrested for a felony after Dec. 31, 2017, to submit a DNA sample via cheek swab. It further stipulates that the sample may not be shipped for identification unless the person was arrested on a warrant or probable cause has been found for a felony arrest.

ASCLD Webinar: DNA Standards and Guidelines

The FBI’s Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods has issued a new version of the autosomal DNA Short Tandem Repeat (STR) interpretation guidelines. Register for a webinar to learn about changes to the interpretation guidelines including the background and scope of the changes.

Europe’s Famed Bog Bodies Are Starting to Reveal Their Secrets

If you’re looking for the middle of nowhere, the Bjaeldskovdal bog is a good place to start. It lies six miles outside the small town of Silkeborg in the middle of Denmark’s flat, sparse Jutland peninsula. The bog itself is little more than a spongy carpet of moss, with a few sad trees poking out. An ethereal stillness hangs over it. A child would put it more simply: This place is really spooky.

Albany State University’s Forensic Science program gains reaccreditation

ALBANY — The Albany State University Forensic Science program received reaffirmation of accreditation through 2022 by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission, making it the only FEPAC-accredited program in the state of Georgia.

Sessions’s Assault On Forensic Science Will Lead To More Unsafe Convictions-an editorial

…Without an entity to enable forensic science to prioritize research and then streamline, simplify and accelerate forensic reform, I fear that advancements will languish and we will soon return to our old ways. Rather than lament the death of NCFS, however, I call upon universities and crime labs to partner together in forensic science reform…

Strengthening Forensic Science Services through National Institute of Justice Grant Programs – 2016 Crime Laboratory Director’s Meeting Final Report

This is a report of the proceedings of a meeting of Forensic Laboratory Directors from various regions of the country convened by the U.S. Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice (NIJ) for the purposes of obtaining information and feedback on NIJ programs that are dedicated to forensic science laboratories, as well as providing an opportunity for an open discussion about the needs and challenges facing forensic science practitioners.

State Police Crime Lab eyes familial DNA searching, a controversial crime-solving tool

The Louisiana State Police Crime Lab is preparing to expand its criminal DNA testing to include a controversial technique known as familial searching, a tool that could breathe new life into aging cold cases by identifying close relatives of suspects.
Louisiana intends to join a growing list of states that over the past decade have cautiously adopted the technique, which has been hailed by detectives as a potential game-changer in solving crimes but has been assailed by critics as ethically and legally questionable.

Sessions Is Wrong to Take Science Out of Forensic Science

The New York times – Prosecutors applauded the April 10 announcement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the Department of Justice was disbanding the nonpartisan National Commission on Forensic Science and returning forensic science to law enforcement control. In the same statement, Mr. Sessions suspended the department’s review of closed cases for inaccurate or unsupported statements by forensic analysts, which regularly occur in fields as diverse as firearm and handwriting identification, and hair, fiber, shoe, bite mark and tire tread matching, and even fingerprinting analysis.

Sessions orders Justice Dept. to end forensic science commission, suspend review policy

Attorney General Jeff Sessions will end a Justice Department partnership with independent scientists to raise forensic science standards and has suspended an expanded review of FBI testimony across several techniques that have come under question, saying a new strategy will be set by an in-house team of law enforcement advisers.
In a statement Monday, Sessions said he would not renew the National Commission on Forensic Science, a roughly 30-member advisory panel of scientists, judges, crime lab leaders, prosecutors and defense lawyers chartered by the Obama administration in 2013.
A path to meet needs of overburdened crime labs will be set by a yet-to-be-named senior forensic adviser and an internal department crime task force, Sessions’s statement said.

AFMES, helping bring loved ones home one FRS at a time

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. – Processing of Family Reference Samples have previously been performed by the sections of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System Department of Defense DNA Registry but has been moved to a section specifically devoted to that mission.
In October 2016, the Family Reference Sample-Laboratory Automation group was established with the primary mission of processing FRSs for the past accounting community, as well as current day operations and internal reference samples needed.

New forensics lab set to bring DNA analysis to international levels

The body in charge of analysing crime scene forensics has said a new €60 million laboratory will bring the processing of DNA in line with international standards.
Work on the State’s new forensic science laboratory is due to begin later this year in Co Kildare and will greatly enhance ability to investigate crimes.
Dr Sheila Willis, director of Forensic Science Ireland (FSI), which analyses crime scene evidence, manages a DNA database and provides expert evidence at trial, has said the facility will enable more efficient practices.

Program to identify dead and missing across US put on hold

Scientist pick up unidentified human remains to analyze in the Missing Persons Lab at the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth, Texas on July 15, 2014

The largest lab that tests DNA for missing people and unidentified dead no longer will accept DNA samples from law enforcement agencies and crime laboratories across the country because of a nearly $1 million cut to its funding.
Without the funding, which came through a federal grant, the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification cannot afford to process DNA samples that come from agencies outside Texas. The lab estimates that it received more than 1,200 out-of-state samples last year, which accounted for nearly 80 percent of its work.

Uniting to Solve Sexual Assault Crimes

WASHINGTON, March 29, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Office of Justice Programs’ National Institute of Justice (NIJ) today published an article online describing how agencies can work together to test sexual assault kits and reduce their numbers of untested kits. The article examines a coordinated effort among NIJ, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the state of Nevada to use a variety of funding streams to test sexual assault kits and provide justice to victims.