Category Archives: Forensic Industry News

New Austin DNA lab chief will tackle 4,000 cases with contamination concerns

blood-samplesAUSTIN (KXAN) — There is a new person in charge of the Austin police DNA lab with a lot on his plate after widespread issues were reported with thousands of cases.
Scott Milne is now the Chief Forensics Officer. The department’s lab shut down over the summer after a investigation revealed thousands of cases that used flawed science calculating odds in DNA results.

End to grant funding brings staff changes at MU Forensic Center

scientist-analyzing-profileHUNTINGTON — The conclusion of a federal grant at Marshall University’s Forensic Science Center means the end of some staff positions at the center.
Seven positions with the Marshall University Research Corporation, the research of which was facilitated at the forensic science center, are being affected by the end of a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, said Ginny Painter, senior vice president of communications and marketing for Marshall.

Rape Survivor Unexpectedly Meets the Woman Who Sent Her Attacker to Jail: ‘She’s My Lifesaver’

lisbeth-and-julieJulie Weil survived the unthinkable — a brutal kidnapping and rape — that kept her homebound for six months until her attacker was caught. It was a DNA match that nailed her attacker, dubbed the “daycare rapist,” and last week, 14 years later and now working as an advocate for rape survivors, Weil was speaking at a conference, unaware that the DNA analyst that solved her case was in the audience.

Forensic Science in Criminal Courts: Ensuring Scientific Validity of Feature-Comparison Methods

white-house“Forensic science” has been defined as the application of scientific or technical practices to the recognition, collection, analysis, and interpretation of evidence for criminal and civil law or regulatory issues. Developments over the past two decades—including the exoneration of defendants who had been wrongfully convicted based in part on forensic-science evidence, a variety of studies of the scientific underpinnings of the forensic disciplines, reviews of expert testimony based on forensic findings, and scandals in state crime laboratories— have called increasing attention to the question of the validity and reliability of some important forms of forensic evidence and of testimony based upon them.
Read Report

Arson at Belgian Forensic Lab May Set Back Terrorism Cases

lab-in-brusselsBRUSSELS — The whole operation took less than 10 minutes. Three people drove a van up to Belgium’s main forensic storehouse at 2 a.m., cut through a perimeter fence, smashed the ground-floor windows, and placed bottles of accelerant inside.
The fire they set destroyed much of the nation’s chief forensic laboratory, including its entire cache of hair samples and thousands of other pieces of evidence critical to the prosecution of hundreds of criminal and terrorism suspects.

DNA Unit celebrates 10-year anniversary

angela-tanzillo-swartzThe DNA Unit of the Cayman Islands Forensic Science Laboratory, a not-for-profit, multi-functional, advanced laboratory operated by the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority (HSA) celebrates its tenth anniversary.

How A Harvard Doctor’s Sordid Murder Launched Modern Forensic Anthropology

Remains for anthroThe history of modern forensic anthropology is a bit murky. As an applied science rather than a “pure” one, forensics was shunned for decades, its findings inadmissible in court. But the 19th century murder of a Harvard Medical School doctor launched the field, revolutionized law in the process, and began our longstanding fascination with TV shows like CSI and Bones.

Senate passes Justice for All Reauthorization Act of 2016

mark-warnerThe Senate unanimously passed the Justice for All Reauthorization Act of 2016, bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) to reauthorize programs within the Department of Justice to improve the accuracy and integrity of the criminal justice system, and ensure public confidence in our legal system by investing in cutting-edge DNA testing and forensic technology.

Discovering the Truth About the Dozier School for Boys

dozier-school-graves-768x512The Dozier School for Boys had cemeteries instead of playgrounds.
The stories of abuses that took place at the reformative school in Marianna, Florida are nothing short of a plot for the TV series American Horror Story. The beatings and other punishments administered to students throughout the school’s 111-year history contributed to the deaths for some of the nearly 100 deceased.

SmallPond Selected for Bermuda’s National DNA Database

Blue and white helixFISHERS, Ind.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Fishers, IN-based SmallPond LLC has joined forces with Indianapolis, IN-based Strand Analytical Laboratories and Hamilton, Bermuda-based Helix Genetic and Scientific Solutions to provide a turn-key solution for DNA testing and DNA databasing/matching to the Bermuda Police Service. Their solution will allow investigating officers to quickly obtain expert DNA analysis services and establish a national DNA database using the SmallPond™ software.

Austin police DNA lab closed amid forensics commission’s concerns

Helix4The Austin Police Department has temporarily suspended operations at its DNA lab because of concerns raised by the Texas Forensic Science Commission, a lack of properly trained supervision and the need to allow staff to learn a new federally required way of verifying evidence, the American-Statesman and KVUE-TV have learned.

Killer breakthrough – the day DNA evidence first nailed a murderer

Alec JeffreysIt’s 30 years since DNA fingerprinting was first used in a police investigation. The technique has since put millions of criminals behind bars – and it all began when one scientist stumbled on the idea in a failed experiment

DNA from skin cells could implicate the innocent, studies suggest

DNA_evidenceDNA collected from skin cells left on objects such as door handles and guns is increasingly being used as evidence in criminal cases. But new studies show a person’s DNA can be transferred to an object that is never touched by the person, raising questions about the reliability of such samples.

Register to gain a better understanding of resolving forensic casework with microbials.

Justice DeptAttendees will lean about biocrime, postmortem interval, human identification, capabilities, legal issues, and the role of the forensic scientist as applied to microbial forensics, and will gain a better understanding of evaluating the ways in which microbial forensics can resolve forensic casework and combat bioterrorism.
Register for the training on Wednesday, June 15, 1:00 PM EDT – 3:00 PM EDT

Decades later, two area servicemen laid to rest thanks to DNA advances

USS OklahomaBack then, the Navy identified fewer than three dozen killed on the Oklahoma. Two years later, salvage workers righted the crippled hulk and gathered skeletal remains from its hold. Bones from 388 still-missing crewmen were compiled in 61 caskets and, in 1950, buried together in the Punchbowl, the national military cemetery in Honolulu.