Rapid DNA analysis accelerates testing of US wildfire victims’ remains

Some refer to “Rapid DNA” technology as a magic box. A machine tests DNA samples and produces results in as little as two hours.
It was used with some success at last autumn’s deadly California wildfire. And it’s being employed by more police agencies in the U.S. CGTN’s Hendrik Sybrandy reported from Denver.

A DNA Test Might Help Exonerate This Man. A Judge Won’t Allow It.

In “Case in Point,” Andrew Cohen examines a single case or character that sheds light on the criminal justice system. An audio version of Case in Point is broadcast with The Takeaway, a public radio show from WNYC, Public Radio International, The New York Times, and WGBH-Boston Public Radio.
Over the past decade, laboratories and lawmakers have expanded the power of DNA to exonerate the wrongfully convicted. Scientists can coax accurate results from trace amounts of DNA, even old or degraded samples. All 50 states allow post-conviction DNA tests.

A History of the Iberian Peninsula, as Told by Its Skeletons

For thousands of years, the Iberian Peninsula — home now to Spain and Portugal — has served as a crossroads.
Phoenicians from the Near East built trading ports there 3,000 years ago, and Romans conquered the region around 200 B.C. Muslim armies sailed from North Africa and took control of Iberia in the 8th century A.D. Some three centuries later, they began losing territory to Christian states.

DNA leads to arrest 34 years after Navy recruit’s slaying

SANFORD, Fla. (AP) – Detectives investigating the 3-decade-old slaying of a Navy recruit used genealogical research involving DNA to track down and arrest a suspect who was a one-time Navy training classmate of the victim, authorities in Florida said Thursday.

More than 1,000 arrested after New York, feds join to get 100K rape kits tested

NEW YORK (AP) – Languishing evidence in over 100,000 sexual assault cases around the country has been sent for DNA testing with money from a New York prosecutor and federal authorities, spurring over 1,000 arrests and hundreds of convictions in three years, officials say.
It’s estimated that another 155,000 or more sex assault evidence kits still await testing, and thousands of results have yet to be linked to suspects. Many who have been identified can’t be prosecuted because of legal time limits and other factors.

Study of old slave quarters in Maryland leads to scientific breakthrough

The study of a 200-year-old clay tobacco pipe discovered in the slave quarters of an old Maryland plantation, has led to a scientific breakthrough.
The object was found at Belvoir, an 18th-century manor house off Generals Highway in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

Surprising DNA found in ancient people from southern Europe

Since the beginning of human migration, the Iberian Peninsula—home of modern-day Spain and Portugal—has been a place where the cultures of Africa, Europe, and the Mediterranean have mingled.
In a new paper in the journal Science, a group of 111 population geneticists and archaeologists charted 8,000 years of genetics in the region. They paint a picture that shows plenty of genetic complexity, but that also hints at a single mysterious migration about 4,500 years ago that completely shook up ancient Iberians’ DNA.

Stains on ‘Jack the Ripper’ Shawl Probed with Science

A controversial “shawl” ostensibly connected to the third victim of Jack the Ripper has turned up mitochondrial DNA, which investigators say shows both that of Catherine Eddowes—and the long-elusive killer.
The paper in the Journal of Forensic Sciences says that the mtDNA profile points to one of the most popular Ripper suspects—a Polish Jew who was committed to an insane asylum for good shortly after the crimes stopped.

Testing the DNA in Museum Artifacts Can Unlock New Natural History, but Is it Worth the Potential Damage?

Museums house a wealth of rare animal specimens, such as arctic clothing, medieval parchment and Viking drinking horns, but DNA testing can be destructive

Oregon rape kit results lead to new profiles, convictions

PORTLAND — A new report says the elimination of Oregon’s backlog of untested rape kits has led to hundreds of new DNA profiles being added to a national database and multiple cases having been prosecuted.
The report was released this week by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in New York. Oregon was one of 20 states to benefit from a sweeping, $38 million grant program created in 2015 to process thousands of untested rape kits across the country.

Genealogy And New DNA Evidence Leads To Arrest Over Abandoned Baby’s Death In 1981

Now, thanks to new genealogy databases and consumer DNA tests, this tragic case is reaching a close. The boy’s alleged mother, a 57-year-old named Theresa Rose Bentaas, was arrested on the morning of Friday, March 8 and faces charges of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and first-degree manslaughter.

Relatives to attend requiem mass for 157 crash victims

Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel will preside over the mass at the Holy Saviour Church.
Ethiopian Authorities are planning the interdenominational service, on the backdrop of lingering questions that remain unanswered.
Further, many of the victims or their families do not profess to the Christian faith while the allowable period for last rites is only 24 hours for Jews and Muslims which is long expired.
Among the pending issues is how to the families will find closure for the remains of their loved ones, and if at all there would be any DNA analysis to identify the tiny body parts recovered so far.

DNA testing company will now let users opt out of helping the FBI

At-home DNA testing site FamilyTreeDNA — which was widely criticized for working with the FBI without telling its customers — will now offer users the option to prevent law enforcement from accessing their data.

Man convicted of rape in 1976 is cleared by DNA retesting

A former Fairfax County, Va., man convicted of rape in 1976 and imprisoned for 4½ years despite conflicting physical evidence and multiple alibi witnesses has had his conviction erased by the Virginia Supreme Court.
Winston L. Scott, now 63 and living in Indiana, spent 43 years as a convicted rapist. “It ruined his life,” said Shawn Armbrust of the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, which handled Scott’s appeal. “It ruined his relationship, it ruined his career plans, it ruined his job prospects. Living for 43 years as a convicted rapist is not something any of us would want to do.”

New Solicitation: FY 2019 DNA Capacity Enhancement for Backlog Reduction (CEBR) Program (Formula)

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is seeking applications for the FY 2019 DNA Capacity Enhancement for Backlog Reduction (CEBR) program. This program furthers the Department’s mission by funding States and units of local government with existing crime laboratories that conduct DNA analysis to increase the capacity of publicly funded forensic DNA and DNA database laboratories to process more DNA samples, thereby helping to reduce the number of forensic DNA and DNA database samples awaiting analysis and/or prevent a backlog of forensic and database DNA samples.
Applications Due: May 13, 2019