Monthly Archives: January 2018

Fighting Wildlife Crime With Forensic Genetics

Protecting the world’s endangered wildlife is a major law enforcement challenge. Poachers, often paid by organized criminal networks, have vast wilderness areas in which to operate. Rangers and police are frequently overstretched and sometimes outgunned. Even when arrests occur, cases can be difficult to prove and successful prosecutions are rare. But new tools, ranging from drones to game theory, are starting to make progress. Now the techniques of forensic genetics used in human crime scene analysis are entering the fray.

Australia has 2,000 missing persons…

It’s been 52 years since the Beaumont children disappeared from Glenelg beach, Adelaide on Australia Day 1966.
In this case, excavation of a new area of interest – based on new evidence pointing to possible shallow graves – is expected to commence this week.
Sadly however, the Beaumont children are just three of around 2,000 long-term missing people in Australia. And we also have more than 500 sets of human remains believed to be archived across the country, that have not yet been identified.

Texas turns to crowdfunding for rape kit backlog

DALLAS – Texas hopes to take advantage of crowdfunding to help pay for testing on a backlog of rape kits in the state.
A new law authored by Democratic State Rep. Victoria Neave from Mesquite gives residents an easy way to donate $1 or more when applying for or renewing a driver’s license or registering a vehicle.

Brianna’s Law has matched more than 1,000 DNA samples to crimes

There are crimes uncommitted because of Brianna Denison.
Denison, a 19-year-old college student who was raped and murdered in Reno in 2008, became the catalyst for a Nevada law that is preventing and solving crimes.
The law passed in 2013 requires that DNA from people arrested on felony charges in Nevada be collected and entered into a database.

Scientists discover the oldest human fossils outside Africa

An ancient jawbone uncovered from a collapsed cave on the coast of Israel is at least 175,000 years old, and it belonged to a member of our own species. Sophisticated stone tools were discovered nearby.

Judging the Quality of Forensic Evidence

While NIST is not a teaching institution per se, teaching comes naturally to many of us who work here. We’re always describing our work in scientific meetings, so it’s not a giant leap to actually teach courses on what we do, though it’s perhaps a little more challenging to teach people about technical subjects they’re not familiar with. And that’s especially true when your students are judges whose understanding of the power and limits of certain types of forensic evidence can have such a profound effect on the lives of others.

New DNA database at Rutgers-Camden to strengthen forensic science

Forensic DNA evidence is a valuable tool in criminal investigations to link a suspect to the scene of a crime, but the process to make that determination is not so simple since the genetic material found at a crime scene often comes from more than one person.

Maryland’s DNA database records its 6,000th hit

A milestone for Maryland’s DNA database. It has now recorded 6,000 positive comparisons or hits.
Earlier this month, scientists at the Maryland State Police Forensics Science Division forwarded information to detectives that the 6,000th positive DNA comparison through the use of Maryland’s DNA database was connected to an open 2012 robbery.

DNA solves the mystery of how these mummies were related

A pair of ancient Egyptian mummies, known for more than a century as the Two Brothers, were actually half brothers, a new study of their DNA finds.

D.C. Crime Lab Eliminates Rape Kit Backlog

“Unlike nearly every state in this country that has hundreds to thousands of sexual assault kits that haven’t been tested and are sitting in backlog, we have no backlog here,” said Jenifer Smith, the lab’s director. “Due to efforts of our DNA unit, [which] has reduced that backlog to zero.”

Sleuth who can crack a murder with blood taken from mosquitoes

NAGOYA–It’s the classic midsummer night’s whodunit murder mystery: A locked room, a corpse, a dead mosquito, no witnesses, and no obvious clues.
But Yuji Hiroshige, a senior researcher at the crime lab of the Nagoya prefectural police here, reckons such a case is eminently solvable.
Just extract the blood from the mosquito, run a DNA test and bingo, a match can be found–unless, of course, the insect bit the victim, not the perpetrator of the crime.
As Sherlock Holmes would say, “Elementary, my dear Watson.”

What It Takes – Barry Scheck

What It Takes is a podcast of conversations with well-known people in almost every field. The interviews have been recorded over the past 25 years by the American Academy of Achievement. They offer life stories of people who have had a huge impact on the world. They offer insights you can apply to your own life.
On this episode, co-founder of the Innocence Project, Barry Scheck.

He pleaded guilty to rape 40 years ago. Now he says he is innocent

Roy Watford was 18 and borderline intellectually disabled, when a Virginia judge asked him to make a decision that would go a long way to determine his future: How would he plead to the charge of raping a 12-year-old girl?
Watford contended he was innocent, but his grandfather urged him not to take the risk of going to trial. He was looking at the possibility of life in prison if convicted by a jury, while a prosecutor was offering a deal that would allow him to walk out of the courthouse without serving a day.

SigNature® DNA Evidence by Applied DNA Used to Convict Criminal in Cash-in-Transit Robbery

STONY BROOK, N.Y.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Applied DNA Sciences, Inc. ( NASDAQ: APDN, “Applied DNA”), today announced that SigNature® DNA evidence has helped to convict a member of an Irish organized crime group involved in a Cash in Transit (CiT) robbery.
“This is the first criminal conviction in Ireland secured using SigNature DNA evidence, and should act as a warning to any other criminals who may be considering a cash-in-transit attack. Our ever-increasing tally has now reached 115 criminals convicted for 545 years of jail time,” commented Tony Benson, Applied DNA’s Managing Director for EMEA.

Lost Native American Ancestor Revealed in Ancient Child’s DNA

A baby girl who lived some 11,500 years ago survived for just six weeks in the harsh climate of central Alaska, but her brief life is providing a surprising and challenging wealth of information to modern researchers.
Her genome is the oldest-yet complete genetic profile of a New World human. But if that isn’t enough, her genes also reveal the existence of a previously unknown population of people who are related to—but older and genetically distinct from— modern Native Americans.