Monthly Archives: January 2017

Family DNA Searches Seen as Crime-Solving Tool, and Intrusion on Rights

crime-site-in-queensThe leads have dried up in the killing of a young woman in Queens during a jog last summer.
Tips about potential suspects have gone nowhere. A reward has failed to bear fruit, even as it has swelled to over $280,000. And the samples of a stranger’s DNA found on the hands, throat and cellphone of the jogger, Karina Vetrano, 30, did not match those in national offender databases.

Cold case murder of Righteous Brothers singer’s ex-wife solved

blue helix2Investigators used a controversial DNA testing method to solve the decades-old killing of the ex-wife of Righteous Brothers singer Bill Medley, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said Friday.
Karen Klaas was attacked Jan. 30, 1976 as she returned to her home in Hermosa Beach. The 32-year-old was sexually assaulted, strangled with her pantyhose and never regained consciousness. She died a few days later at the hospital.

Drowning in DNA: State’s backlog of rape kits grows

georgia-rape-kitsGeorgia- As the state’s crime lab struggles to process more than 1,300 rape kits that were found stored and forgotten at Grady Memorial Hospital, an avalanche of additional DNA evidence has rolled in, partly because of a new state law that governs when DNA evidence must be submitted.

Irish expert to crack cold cases after breakthrough in DNA profiling

DNA StrandsA NEW DNA profiling technique, which finally nabbed the Boston Strangler after half a century, is being used in Ireland for the first time to try to solve cold cases.
The genetic test is currently being employed to crack some of Ireland’s most serious unexplained crimes.
The technology – known as Y-STR DNA profiling – pinpoints male DNA in evidence samples which contain high levels of female DNA, such as in semen samples taken from a female victim in a sexual assault case.

Hundreds of DNA matches as Houston clears rape kit backlog

DNA profilesHOUSTON — Evidence from more than 6,600 rape kits that went untested for years in Houston have turned up 850 hits in the FBI’s nationwide database of DNA profiles, marking a major step in the city’s $6 million effort to address the backlog, officials announced Monday.

Cutting-edge Technology Solves Ancient Scientific Puzzles

ancient-gravesiteHere’s a riddle for you: What does an ancient tooth unearthed in Troy, a bald eagle feather, and a scrap of metal from a WWII fighter plane all have in common?

Virginia bill seeks study on DNA databank expansion

dna-profile-blueALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (NEWSPLEX) — A new bill sponsored by Delegate David Toscano and backed by Albemarle County Sheriff Chip Harding is asking for a study on the effectiveness of increasing the number of misdemeanor crimes that require DNA collection.
“It’s just overwhelming, the lives it saves, the potential rape victims it’s saving. It’s in the hundreds and hundreds, and I just can’t let it go,” said Harding, who was a driving force behind the creation of Virginia’s DNA databank in the 1990s.

Rapid Processing of Swabs from Casework Samples Using Casework Direct Kit, Custom

 This application note describes the protocol for generation of Casework Direct Reagent lysate from casework samples. The resulting lysate is compatible with downstream applications such as human DNA quantification and STR profile generation.

Genedrive scores US army coup with DNA-testing deal

helix10A small British company has clinched a rare deal with the US armed forces, providing them with millions of pounds of kit to test for biological warfare agents. The US Department of Defense has now begun field trials of DNA analysis equipment from Genedrive.

Hatch, Feinstein, Sensenbrenner, and Swalwell Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Rapid DNA Legislation

feinstein-swalwellWASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA) introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Rapid DNA Act. This legislation would establish a system to enable law enforcement officials to use Rapid DNA instruments to help reduce DNA backlogs. Unlike traditional DNA analysis, which can take weeks, Rapid DNA analysis permits processing of DNA samples in approximately 90 minutes or less.

National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) FY 2017 Competitive Grant Announcement

Justice DeptThe U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) is seeking applications for funding to address the issue of unsubmitted sexual assault kits(SAKs) at law enforcement agencies. This program furthers the Department’s mission by improving state and local jurisdictions’ response to violent crime and improving the functioning of the criminal justice system.

Applicants must register with prior to submitting an application. All applications are
due to be submitted and in receipt of a successful validation message in by 11:59 p.m. eastern time on March 2, 2017.

Forensic science cuts pose risk to justice, regulator warns

profile-12The government will damage British justice if it inflicts further cuts on forensic science, the official regulator has said.
Dr Gillian Tully warned in her annual report that financial pressures were compromising quality, including potentially in serious criminal cases involving murder and sexual assault.

Dust To Dust: Scientists Find DNA Of Human Ancestors In Cave Floor Dirt

max-planc-researchersImagine being able to collect the DNA of a human ancestor who’s been dead for tens of thousands of years from the dirt on the floor of a cave. Sounds fantastic, but scientists in Germany think they may be able to do just that. If they’re successful, it could open a new door into understanding the extinct relatives of humans.

Family-member DNA searches could help crack Canadian cold cases

analystThough he had never before heard of Kelly Morrisseau, the details of her cold case, and the subsequent 10-year investigation into her killing, were instantly familiar to Rockne Harmon.

Parabon® Snapshot™ Helps Investigators Solve Double-Homicide Cold Case

parabon-suspect-photoRESTON, Va., Jan. 4, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — With the generous permission of the Rockingham County NC Sheriff’s Office (RCSO), Parabon® NanoLabs (Parabon) announces the company’s participation in the agency’s successful investigation of the murders of Douglas “Troy” and LaDonna French. On 4 February 2012, the Frenches were fatally shot by an intruder in their home in Reidsville, NC. Although DNA evidence was found at the crime scene, it failed to produce a match in any database or among the more than 50 individuals known to have been in or near the French home. In January 2015, nearly three years into the investigation and only a month after the debut of Parabon’s Snapshot Phenotyping Service, RCSO Captain Tammi Howell and Detective Marcus Marshall contacted Parabon about the case. Parabon CEO Steve Armentrout remembers the call: “This was an early case for Snapshot. I recall the investigators’ frustration at having such solid DNA evidence, but no one to match it to. Those are exactly the types of cases for which Snapshot was created.”