Monthly Archives: December 2016

State audit shows nearly half of rape kits not tested

idaho-state-policeNearly half of Idaho’s alleged sexual assault victims who underwent a forensic exam after reporting their case to authorities never had those results submitted to a lab for testing.
That’s according to new information gathered from law enforcement agencies across the state, showing that about 44 percent of rape kits conducted in Idaho never got tested.

Secrets of world’s oldest mummies are revealed by DNA tests, scans

chinchorro-mummySANTIAGO – The world’s oldest mummies have just had an unusual check-up.
More than 7,000 years after they were embalmed by the Chinchorro people, an ancient civilization in modern-day Chile and Peru, 15 mummies were taken to a Santiago clinic last week to undergo DNA analysis and computerized tomography scans.

Massively Parallel Sequencing: Application to Forensics

Justice DeptMassively parallel sequencing (MPS), also called next-generation sequencing, is an exciting technology that holds promise for enhancing the capabilities of forensic DNA laboratories. However, several challenges confront the implementation of an MPS system in a crime laboratory.
This report not only provides forensic DNA scientists with one comprehensive resource which covers the fundamentals of current platforms and chemistries, but it also summarizes a series of MPS related webinars hosted by the FTCoE in conjunction with the University of North Texas Health Science Center’s Institute of Applied Genetics.
This report is a product of an NIJ-funded project but is not published by the Department of Justice.

The Suspect, the Prosecutor, and the Unlikely Bond They Forged

smithsonian-imageAs attorney general of the United States in the 1930s, Homer Cummings announced the capture of Bruno Hauptmann in the kidnapping and murder of the Lindbergh baby. He built Alcatraz, the island prison. In the time of John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd and Bonnie and Clyde, he consolidated federal investigative units into what became the FBI. He fought incessant battles for New Deal legislation. And he was instrumental in one of the century’s great scandals, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s disastrous attempt to pack the Supreme Court. In fact, Cummings was chief architect of the plan, which was widely condemned; its true purpose of manufacturing a friendlier Supreme Court was buried under talk of judicial efficiency.

New DNA markers to identify Indian population

blue helix2Hyderabad: In a significant breakthrough in criminal forensics, scientists of the Centre for DNA Finger-printing and Diagnostics (CDFD) have developed a set of 70 genetic markers that can easily help in obtaining the DNA profile of Indian Population.
The new genetic markers would help forensic experts involved in crime investigations and identification of disaster victims to successfully obtain DNA profiles from challenging forensic samples like those of exhumed bodies, aircrash bodies and highly degraded bodies in disasters.

Lawmakers try to fix a side effect of reducing drug and theft crimes: Not enough DNA samples for cold cases

scientist-at-workCalifornia lawmakers are once again trying to expand the collection of DNA evidence in criminal cases, something they say has declined under Proposition 47, hurting cold rape and murder investigations.
The landmark ballot measure, which voters passed in 2014, reduced drug possession and some theft crimes to misdemeanors in a move to lower the jail and prison population across the state. But in doing so, law enforcement officials say, the list of felony cases from which police are required to gather DNA evidence has been narrowed, causing a drop in the state’s database of forensic samples.

Ancient DNA reveals genetic legacy of pandemics in the Americas

dna-profile-bluePrehistoric America was not a disease-free utopia. Tuberculosis, treponemal disease, Chagas disease, and many other pathogens were endemic to populations in different regions of the continent. But the “Columbian Exchange” beginning in 1492 introduced new pathogens to American populations, including smallpox, measles, influenza, and yellow fever. This introduction had devastating consequences for tribes. In some places, death from infectious disease resulted in the depopulation of entire regions, leading to the collapse of social, economic, and political institutions, and the loss of many traditional cultural practices and ways of life.

New Database Helps Families ID People Who Died Crossing the Border

south-texashe promise of life in the United States led about 170,000 people to cross the border illegally in 2015. But those crossings aren’t always successful: This year alone, at least 409 people are thought to have gone missing or died while crossing the U.S./Mexico border or evading immigration officials after entering the U.S. Those people may die in anonymity, but they are not always forgotten. As Yara Simón reports for Remezcla, a new project is helping families of the missing identify the dead using the items they leave behind.

New law expanding DNA analysis would help German investigators

helix9What can DNA tell us about what an unknown perpetrator looks like? A whole lot, but only if the law allows it. Germany has some of the strictest legislation with regard to how DNA analysis can be used. Why? DW talks to Peter Schneider, the head of Germany’s Spurenkommission, an umbrella group of the country’s leading forensic institutions.

Pushing for familial DNA testing in NY

Familial HelixFor 25 years, police in southern Los Angeles struggled to identify the perpetrator responsible for killing at least 10 black women over the course of three decades, known as “The Grim Sleeper.”
DNA samples left at the crime scenes matched nobody in any databases and detectives seemed to be out of leads.
Enter familial DNA testing, a method in which investigators take a sample and look for a match in the databases to determine if it matches that of anyone’s close male relative — the search tests the Y chromosome, passed down by the father — registered in any criminal databases.

New DNA testing planned in JonBenet Ramsey’s 20-year-old cold case murder

jonbenetA new round of DNA testing is underway to hopefully solve JonBenet Ramsey’s 20-year-old murder, according to Colorado investigators and the district attorney’s office.
The decision comes after Boulder Daily Camera and 9News analyzed lab results linked to the 6-year-old’s murder that uncovered flaws while testing DNA evidence. The investigation found that forensic evidence did not support previous District Attorney Mary Lacy’s efforts to clear JonBenet’s parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, from suspicion in the case.

NIST Research Enables Enhanced DNA “Fingerprints”

puzzleAs the new year approaches, forensic labs across the country are gearing up for a big change in the way they generate DNA profiles, the genetic fingerprints so useful in solving crimes and identifying the remains of missing persons. Forensic experts produce DNA profiles by extracting genetic material from blood or other biological evidence and analyzing sites in the DNA called markers.

Two Greek sites in top-10 archaeological discoveries for 2016

the_antikythera_mechanismTwo archaeological findings in Greece, the Antikythera Man and the mass grave at Pheleron Delta were included in the top 10 discoveries for 2016 by “Archaeology” magazine. The publication is published by the Archaeological Institute of America and its editors announced their picks for the most compelling finds of the year expiring in two weeks. Following is the complete list:

Free Webinar: Results from a Casework Pilot Study for PowerPlex® Y23 System

jim-thomsonThe PowerPlex® Y23 System is a 23-loci, 5-color Y-STR multiplex designed for genotyping forensic casework samples, database samples and paternity samples.
In this webinar, Jim Thomson from LGC Group will describe the use of PowerPlex® Y23 System on difficult sexual offense cases, particularly those in which no sperm was identified. He will report on success rates in different categories derived from a case study carried out on samples provided by nominated participating UK police forces.

A Mummy’s DNA May Help Solve The Mystery Of The Origins Of Smallpox

17th-century-lithuanian-mummyNPR- The surprise find of smallpox DNA in a child mummy from the 17th century could help scientists start to trace the mysterious history of this notorious virus.
Smallpox currently only exists in secure freezers, after a global vaccination campaign eradicated the virus in the late 1970s. But much about this killer remains unknown, including its origins.