Category Archives: Forensic Industry News

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

Forensic DNA profiling might be about to take a big leap forward. Are we ready?

evidence-collectionPicture the scene. A detective is addressing her team:
“The DNA test results are in. We’re looking for a white male suspect, 34–37 years old, born in the summer in a temperate climate. He’s used cocaine in the past. His mother smoked, but he doesn’t. He drinks heavily, like his Dad. We’re seeing high stress levels, and looking at the air pollution markers, let’s start looking downtown, probably near a major intersection”.

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.