In an Apparent First, Genetic Genealogy Aids a Wrongful Conviction Case

It started as a way to trace family history. It evolved into a tool to help solve decades-old cold cases. Now, for apparently the first time, a genealogy database is expected to lead to charges being dropped against an Idaho man convicted in a decades-old rape and murder case.

The ISHI Report

• A guide to interpreting and reporting contaminated profiles.
• Articles on how Rapid DNA is being used in mass casualty disasters.
• Features on the newest technologies, which will be presented during the ISHI 30 panel discussion.
• Information on how touch DNA is bringing rhinoceros poachers to justice.
• Interviews with investigative genealogy experts on how GEDmatch updates will impact future cases, and more!

A new look at the Gibraltar Neanderthals

Modern DNA sequencing techniques are allowing us to discover more about some iconic Neanderthal skulls than ever before.

An Epidemic of Disbelief

What new research reveals about sexual predators, and why police fail to catch them.

How much should juries rely on expert testimony?

Ten years ago, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) published a groundbreaking study on the use of forensics in criminal trials. The study found that, in the “pattern matching” fields of forensics in particular, expert witnesses had been vastly overstating the significance and certainty of their analyses. For some fields, such as bite-mark analysis, the study found no scientific research at all to support the central claims of practitioners.

Crusader for Spain’s abducted babies finds biological family

BARCELONA, Spain — A woman who became a crusader for babies abducted during Spain’s 20th-century dictatorship said Thursday that she has found her biological family and learned that her mother gave her up voluntarily.
Inés Madrigal said that thanks to an American DNA bank she has found four half siblings five decades after her birth.

DNA tests confirm identity of 1st Filipino suicide attacker

MANILA, Philippines — DNA tests have confirmed the identity of the first known Filipino suicide bomber in the country’s south, an alarming milestone that underscores the need for public vigilance and a modernized armed forces, officials said Wednesday.
Two attackers carrying explosives killed three soldiers, two villagers and themselves and wounded 22 others in a June 28 attack on an army camp in Sulu province’s Indanan town. The Islamic State group said the attackers were its fighters, but local police played down the claim.

Search for Girl Missing for Three Decades Leads to Empty Vatican Tombs

ROME — The disappearance 36 years ago of a Vatican City employee’s teenage daughter, who vanished off a Rome street after attending a music lesson, has given rise to one of Italy’s most enduring mysteries, fueled by false leads, red herrings and continual media attention.
The latest installment of the drawn-out drama came Thursday morning, when, acting on a series of tips to the family, a Vatican-appointed forensic anthropologist exhumed two tombs in a cemetery inside the Vatican walls to analyze their contents.

A Commercial DNA Testing Company Wants to Team With New York Police to Find Criminals, But Privacy Advocates Fear A Genetic Dragnet

New York State is on the verge of approving investigative DNA testing by a private company that can identity up to nine degrees of relatives based on a genetic sample—and which uses commercial databases containing the DNA of thousands of Americans—to assist law enforcement, Bronx Justice News has learned.
The Department of Health expects to approve licenses for Parabon NanoLabs—a Virginia-based company that markets forensic genealogical testing and consultant work to law enforcement—as well as a separate lab that handles most of Parabon’s DNA samples, once all required documentation is reviewed, Dr. Anne Walsh, Associate Director for Medical Affairs at the state Department of Health and head of DOH’s forensic identity section, said at a state forensic science commission meeting last month.

DNA From a Shark Tooth Embedded in a Man’s Foot for 25 Years Identifies the Culprit

It was unclear what species of shark attacked Jeff Weakley while he was surfing off Flagler Beach, Florida in 1994. Whether it was a tiger shark, bull shark, great white shark, or some other predator didn’t matter at the time—his priority was swimming to safety before the shark could take another bite.
Twenty-five years later, the wound on Weakley’s right foot has healed, and he’s had plenty of time to wonder what exactly bit him on that beach trip. By analyzing a tooth fragment that was lodged in his foot for more than two decades, a team of scientists has finally given him an answer, the Ocala StarBanner reports.

Remains of one of Napoleon’s 1812 generals believed found in Russia

More than 200 years after he died of his battlefield wounds in Russia, archaeologists believe they have found the remains of one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s favourite generals buried in a park beneath the foundations of a dance floor.

UK forensics firm hit with ransomware

Forensics services company Eurofins Scientific was hit with a ransomware attack, bringing its business to a grinding halt, and forcing some important partners to suspend their partnership.
According to a BBC report, the company was hit by ransomware a month ago, and was forced to pay ransom to get its data back. While its operations were blocked, the British police was forced to suspend the work they do together.

Houston Sexual Assault Survivors Can Now Track Their Evidence Kits

Houston is one of several Texas cities participating in the pilot phase of an online tool that allows survivors of sexual assault to track their sexual assault evidence kits. Experts are confident the new technology will help investigators maintain an up-to-date statewide inventory of sexual assault kits once the current backlog is cleared.

Emanuela Orlandi: Vatican tombs to be opened in search for remains

The latest twist in a mystery that has long gripped Italy came a few months ago when the Orlandi family’s lawyer received an anonymous tip.
“Last summer I received an envelope,” the lawyer, Laura Sgrò, told NBC News on Wednesday. “I opened it and there was a picture of the statue of an angel in the Teutonic Cemetery inside the Vatican. And a letter that simply said, ‘If you want to find Emanuela, search where the angel looks.'”

Idaho will now test all rape kits. It could lead to more convictions, trust of police

BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — After three years of implementing regulations around the testing and tracking of sexual assault evidence kits, law went into place on Monday that mandates the testing of all kits, with very rare exceptions.