Can DNA solve the mystery of Europe’s pointy skulls?

Skull modification may have been an extreme way to declare one’s identity during the Migration Period (ca. 300-700 A.D.), when so-called “barbarian” groups like the Goths and the Huns were vying for control of territory in Europe after the collapse of the Roman Empire. Could ancient DNA help archaeologists pinpoint what exactly those cultural alliances were?

DNA match leads to man’s arrest in violent 1993 abduction

Using a discarded cigarette butt, evidence from an old shirt and a DNA profile from a genealogy company, Logan County authorities have arrested and charged a man with the attempted murder of a 19-year-old woman 26 years ago.
It was a classic combination of modern technology and shoe-leather police work that led to the arrest Monday and the indictment Tuesday of Ralph E. Bortree, who faces a single count of attempted murder, said Logan County Prosecutor Eric Stewart. Bortree, 55, now in the Logan County jail, also is accused of abducting and raping that woman July 31, 1993, but the statute of limitations to charge him with those crimes has expired.

UK Police Investigations Still Affected by Ransomware Attack

The June ransomware attack against one of the largest forensic labs in the U.K. continues to delay police investigations in Britain while authorities await test results.
At one point, authorities were confronted with a backlog of 20,000 forensic samples – including DNA and blood-samples – that were awaiting analysis for criminal cases, according to a report by the BBC.

RCMP unveil new, state-of-the-art forensics lab in Surrey

A new police laboratory in North Surrey is expected to handle thousands of forensic services from across the country each year.
RCMP took ownership of its new lab on July 15, located at E-Division headquarters in North Surrey at 14200 Green Timbers Way.

DNA Analysis Just Made The Eerie Mystery of Himalayan ‘Skeleton Lake’ Even Stranger

High in the Himalayas of India, amid the snow-capped peaks, nestles a mystery. Roopkund Lake is a shallow body of water filled with human bones – the skeletons of hundreds of individuals. It’s these that give the lake its other name, Skeleton Lake, and no one knows how the remains came to be there.

N.Y.P.D. Detectives Gave a Boy, 12, a Soda. He Landed in a DNA Database.

The city has 82,473 people in its database. Many of them have no idea their genetic information is there.

Ashton Kutcher’s Testimony Could Potentially Find The Alleged ‘Hollywood Ripper’ Not Guilty.

Gargiulo’s trial for the two California murders and the attempted murder started on May 2 (he is being tried separately for the Illinois murder of Pacaccio). Even though there’s little DNA evidence in the three murders, the prosecution is trying to prove similarities in all the attacks, linking Gargiulo to the murders, saying he stalked and “thrill killed” his victims. The defense, however, is suggesting that due to lack of DNA evidence in the murders, it’s possible other suspects with closer relationships to the victims could be responsible for the murders. It’s Kutcher’s testimony the defense is focusing on, casting doubt on Gargiulo’s guilt for Ellerin’s murder, and thus all the murders.

Ancestry customer says he is glad his DNA on GEDmatch led to unknown cousin’s arrest for murder

ORLANDO, Fla. – When John Hogan was researching his family tree, he never imagined that paying for a DNA kit from Ancestry could one day help detectives to solve a cold case. The murder suspect turned out to be a second cousin he had never even met.

Human remains identified after 24 years in Wisconsin

This year, Grant County Coroner Phyllis Fuerstenberg reopened the case to see if identification could be possible with new technology. Fuerstenberg was able to obtain fingerprints due to new technology and techniques. The man was identified as Gale Joseph Byers, who was born on November 11th, 1938.

Kary Mullis, unconventional Nobel laureate who unlocked DNA research, dies at 74

The technique for which Dr. Mullis shared the Nobel in 1993 was known as polymerase chain reaction, called PCR for short, and it enabled scientists to make millions or billions of copies of a single tiny segment of the DNA molecule.

A Brief History of Forensics and Human Identification– Infographic

It’s no question that the field of forensic science has come a long way in the past few decades. Some of you reading this article may remember the satisfaction of pouring a perfect gel or the exact method for calculating the half life of the radioactive materials you’d used. If this is you, you likely remember the Frye and Daubert hearings that followed.
As we look forward to the 30th anniversary of The International Symposium on Human Identification, we’d like to take a moment to celebrate the advances in forensic science and the people and moments that pushed the field forward. Some of these moments were triumphs in history, and others were times when the community came together following a tragedy. We’ve created an infographic highlighting these moments in time and invite you to scroll through history and perhaps down memory lane a little.
If you’re joining us at ISHI 30 this year, we invite you to celebrate history with us in person! Next to the registration area will be a museum exhibit showcasing historical cases, former technologies, and the people who helped shape history. We thank those who pioneered the field of forensics and look forward to witnessing what the future brings.

An Israeli soldier went MIA 37 years ago. International intrigue and DNA testing brought him home.

TEL AVIV — For decades, Israel’s National Center of Forensic Medicine has tested skeletal remains secreted across its northern border, checking whether the DNA matched that of Israeli soldiers missing in action behind enemy lines in Lebanon or Syria.
“From time to time they’d bring the samples,” said Chen Kugel, the head of the forensics center. “It’s body remains. It’s bones. It was always: maybe this time, maybe this time, maybe this time.”
There was never a match.
Then, earlier this year, a bag of bones arrived, and from the moment it was opened, it looked promising. The staff soon determined that the bones belonged to Staff Sgt. Zachary Baumel, who had gone missing in Lebanon 37 years ago.

Federal funding necessary for clearing rape kit backlog

Congress has the opportunity to renew important funding for helping solve a critical issue in the U.S. — the number of untested rape kits languishing on shelves of police departments, hospitals and state crime labs.

In rare move, DuPage indicts DNA profile of unknown person suspected in death of ‘Baby Hope,’ infant found dead near Wheaton

On Aug. 15, 2016, landscapers working along Plamondon Road in an unincorporated area near Wheaton found the dead, full-term newborn in a backpack along the roadside. Since then, the DuPage County sheriff’s office has been investigating to learn the identity of the baby and what happened to her.

A Connecticut ‘vampire’s’ remains were found 30 years ago. Now DNA is giving him new life

After Barber’s grave was discovered, his remains were sent to the museum for study, and a sample from a thigh bone was sent to the DNA lab for analysis. But the technology of 30 years ago yielded scant results, the paper’s authors wrote, and identification was impossible.
But when modern tools were used – Y-chromosomal DNA profiling and surname prediction via genealogy data available on the internet – the experts said they came up with a match for the last name: Barber.