Face of Ordinary Poor Man from 13th Century Cambridge Reconstructed

The growth of forensic science and art has allowed a look into the faces of kings, from the famous Shakespearean villain Richard III, to the Scottish hero Robert the Bruce, to the famed boy-pharaoh Tutankhamun.
But what about the rabble? What about the commoners buried in small plots without pomp, and forgotten not long after they left this mortal coil?
A new project in Cambridge called “After the Plague” aims to understand the plight of the common man and woman in and around the time the Black Death hit England in 1348.

Idaho man who didn’t match DNA from killing is freed

BOISE, Idaho – An Idaho man who experts say was coerced into a false murder confession was freed Wednesday after spending half of his life behind bars.
A judge released Christopher Tapp after vacating his rape conviction and resentencing him to time served for the 1996 killing of Angie Dodd.
The release came after years of work by Tapp’s attorney, public defender John Thomas, and advocates, including Judges for Justice, the Idaho Innocence Project and the victim’s mother, Carol Dodge.

A Chance Reunion: Rape Survivor Meets Forensic Analyst Who Sent Her Attacker to Jail at Conference

It played out in front of a packed hotel ballroom of some 800 people at last year’s International Symposium on Human Identification (ISHI) in Minneapolis: the unexpected reunion between the survivor of a brutal serial rapist and the forensic analyst who found the DNA that led to a conviction in the case. Julie Weil had just told the terrifying story of her 2002 kidnapping and unthinkable repeated rapes in front of her two young children, emphasizing how the discovery of DNA evidence “saved her life.” At the end of panel discussion Q&A, the moderator, sounding surprised and frankly a bit unsure, read aloud a question she’d just received from the audience via the Crowd Compass app: “Did you know your analyst is here today? Her name is Lisbeth Colon.”

2,156 untested sexual assault kits processed as state works to clear backlog

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement released a report last year stating there more than 13,000 rape kits that had not been submitted or processed in the state.
The estimated cost to process these kits would be between $9 million and $32 million.

Travis County-Austin agreement to review DNA lab fallout moves forward

The Travis County Commissioners Court on Tuesday approved its part of an agreement with Austin that will pave the way for a review of the fallout from the shuttering of Austin police’s DNA lab.
The Austin City Council will vote Thursday on the agreement and on a plan to turn over the operations of a new DNA lab to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The terrifying DNA discoveries that are making science-fiction fact

Imagine a world where parents can give birth to superbabies with bones so strong they’re impervious to a surgical drill and a heart less prone to failure. A world where a child has DNA from three parents, not two. A world where it’s possible for a woman to have her favorite movie star’s child simply by collecting a few of his skin cells. Genetic technology is making it all a reality, horrifying some and heartening others.
Reproductive advances are arriving so rapidly, we’ve already entered the realm of science-fiction and are on the verge of making truly astounding leaps.

Bucks County Police Pioneering 90-Minute Rapid DNA Testing System

Tullytown police were among the first in Bucks County to use a new 90-minute rapid DNA testing system to identify a perp.
Daniel Doyle, Tullytown’s chief of police, said his department used Bensalem’s new IntegenX RapidHIT ID system to test DNA and solve a recent vehicle theft. The system used a sample from the person of interest to rapidly analyze DNA and match the crime to the alleged perpetrator.

Will new robotics, new mandate spur faster testing of Utah’s rape kits ­— or fuel a new backlog?

Utah lawmakers have approved a new mandate to test all rape kits — but not all the funding needed to cover the additional work. And while robotics will speed up a key part of testing, a lack of staff may just mean a bottleneck at a different step in the process.

New Solicitation: Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence-Inventory, Tracking, and Reporting Program

Many law enforcement agencies do not have computerized systems to track the processing of a sexual assault kit (SAK). Through this solicitation, NIJ will assist eligible states, units of local government, and tribal governments to inventory, track, and report all untested and unsubmitted SAKs and help these jurisdictions ensure accountability and transparency for the collection, processing and testing of SAKs.
The deadline for applications under this funding opportunity is April 28, 2017.

NatGeo to pay for DNA analysis in Brazos County cold case, create documentary

National Geographic Explorer has paid to analyze DNA found under the fingernails of a local woman brutally slain in 1981, helping the Brazos County Sheriff’s Office get one step closer to solving the more than 35-year-old cold case that left the county terrified and helped to forever change the real estate industry.

New $75M crime lab for Milwaukee approved

The crime lab would replace an existing 40,000-square-foot facility in south Milwaukee. The new 150,000-square-foot lab would be in either Milwaukee County or Waukesha County. It would include space for DNA testing, toxicology reports, forensic imaging and evidence processing. The new facility would also house a state Department of Justice training center, a Division of Criminal Investigation field office and a regional office for the attorney general.

New project to identify Jack the Ripper’s last known victim

Members of the University of Leicester team who undertook genealogical and demographic research in relation to the discovery of the mortal remains of King Richard III have now been involved in a new project to identify the last known victim of Jack the Ripper – Mary Jane Kelly.

Standard DNA Testing Can’t Differentiate Between Identical Twins.

Telling one identical twin from another poses problems for police. And it goes beyond appearances.
That’s because DNA profiling may be the gold standard for bringing criminals to justice, but when it comes to identical twins, standard testing can’t tell the difference.
So when crime scene DNA showed a match to a suspect in two rape cases in Boston in 2004, it showed a match to his twin brother as well.
Now, a Suffolk County prosecutor is trying to persuade a state judge to make her court the first in the country to admit a new forensic test that points to one of the twins — and not the other.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Limits Postconviction DNA Testing of Evidence

March 3, 2017 – Convicted of murder in the early 1980s, Jeffrey Denny filed a postconviction motion in 2014, claiming he was entitled to forensic DNA testing of evidence from the crime scene. Recently, the state supreme court said he was not.
In State v. Denny, 2017 WI 17 (Feb. 28, 2017), a 4-3 majority ruled that Denny did not meet the statutory requirements for postconviction DNA testing at public expense. And a 5-2 majority overruled a 2005 decision that allowed DNA testing at private expense when a person does not satisfy requirements for publicly funded DNA testing.

Ancient Skulls Found in China Could Belong to an Unknown Human Species

Scientists have discovered two partial human skulls in central China that they say could potentially belong to an unknown archaic human species.
The skulls are 105,000 to 125,000 years old, and they contain a unique mix of modern human and Neanderthal features. Excitingly, they could be the key to filling in some of the missing pieces of the human family tree in east Asia.