Monthly Archives: May 2018

Share your expertise, present your work at ISHI 29!

Time is running out to share your work at ISHI. Oral and Interesting Case abstracts are due by June 17. Poster abstracts are due July 15. Oral abstracts will be reviewed by an independent committee and selected based on community interest. All abstracts will be published in the on-line Proceedings after the conference.

Attend ISHI in Phoenix to
• Network with other forensic scientists
• Learn about the latest technologies and trends in DNA analysis
• Participate in focused topic workshops
• Meet leaders in the field
Early bird rates on the symposium and workshops expire on August 1. Register now to save $100 off the standard symposium rate.

France puts British security at risk by blocking UK’s bid to remain part of EU criminal security system that shares DNA, vehicle and fingerprint data

France is obstructing Britain’s bid to remain in an EU security network that helps members catch foreign criminals.
The UK government wants continued access to a shared database that helped French and Belgian authorities identify the terrorists responsible for the Paris attacks in November 2015.
Ministers have said Britain’s ability to access and share vital DNA, fingerprint and vehicle data under the so-called Prum convention is ‘clearly in the national interest’.
But France led the resistance against Britain’s efforts to join a ‘Prum 2’ at a recent meeting to discuss security after Brexit.

3,500 rape kits are overdue for analysis in Alaska

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) — A backlog of nearly 3,500 completed sexual assault evidence kits could be resolved in two years with $2.75 million added to the state’s capital budget by the Alaska Legislature before it adjourned earlier this month.
The evidence in the test kits — tissue swabs, clothing, hair, skin, blood — were gathered by investigators around Alaska according to state Department of Public Safety officials. But the kits remained in the custody of troopers and local departments — 53 percent are held by Anchorage police. The non-analyzed kits came off the state’s priority list because they weren’t needed to prosecute criminals, or there wasn’t the money budgeted to run the tests.

The Ethics Behind Using Genealogy Websites to Find Crime Suspects

In April, the Golden State Killer, a former police officer responsible for a series of rapes and murders in the 1970s and ’80s, was finally caught — thanks to a genealogy website.
Armed with the killer’s DNA from various crime scenes, detectives used a website called GEDmatch to track down possible relatives who had similar genetics. This ultimately led them to a handful of suspects, one of whom fit the rest of the clues: Joseph James DeAngelo, a 72-year-old man living in a quiet neighborhood of Sacramento, California. Investigators were then able to collect a tiny bit of the man’s DNA, taken from something he had thrown away, and then use this genetic material to confirm that he was the Golden State Killer.

Overall DNA-Data Harvesting for Chechens to Help Search for Children Kidnapped by ISIS

The head of the Chechen Republic has ordered an “overall DNA harvesting” to help identify and retrieve Russian children who had been taken to terrorist-control territories in the Middle East.
“We are now actively working to establish the fates of Russian citizens – women and children – who have ended up in Iraq and Syria, and help them to return. At present, in order secure the return to Russia of children who were born in Middle Eastern countries, I have ordered a collective gathering of DNA test material,” Ramzan Kadyrov wrote in his latest post on popular Russian social network, Vkontakte.

As state clears sex assault kit backlog, teams work to empower victims

MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) – The last batch of unsubmitted sexual assault kits has been sent to labs for testing, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel announced Tuesday.
Schimel says testing will be complete by the end of 2018. Clearing the backlog of cases was the mission of Wisconsin’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative.

Russian authorities asked New Zealand police to search DNA database in hunt for Russian serial killer

Russian authorities hunting a serial killer asked New Zealand police to search their DNA database in a bid to catch the dangerous and wanted murderer.
The request is one of at least 38 for DNA searches made to New Zealand police from international law enforcement agencies hunting foreign killers and criminals since a law change in 2016.

Peruvian scientists use DNA to trace origins of Inca emperors

Researchers in Peru believe they have traced the origins of the Incas —the largest pre-Hispanic civilization in the Americas—through the DNA of the modern-day descendants of their emperors.

Retiring crime-lab chief helped crack cold cases, catch rapists, elevate forensic science

WEST PALM BEACH —Just before Cecelia Crouse was hired by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office in 1992 to be part of the crime lab as a forensic scientist conducting DNA research, she had to look up the definition of “forensics.” She took the interview with the encouragement of a friend, but didn’t understand why a law-enforcement agency would need a scientist like herself.

How DNA and a lot of hope is helping Defense Department find New York war heroes

In 2016, the remains of 18-year-old Hornell native Cpl. William H. Smith were laid to rest in Elmira’s Forest Lawn Cemetery, 66 years after he’d first been reported missing in action in 1950 while stationed near the Chinese border in Korea.
Smith is one of 28 previously missing service members of the Korean War from New York state who have been recovered, identified and returned for burial in the past 18 years, according to Defense Department records.
These homecomings, and those of the missing in other conflicts, were the result of a centralized effort by the Defense Department, intensified in recent years by the formation of a single agency — the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency — to coordinate the effort to recover missing personnel from past wars and conflicts and from countries around the world.

Remains of Springfield marine, killed in battle 75 years ago in Guadalcanal, coming home

SPRINGFIELD — U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. Francis E. Drake Jr., more than 75 long years following his heroic death on a faraway battlefield, is finally returning home.
The remains of the 20-year-old, the city’s first marine to be killed in World War ll, are being flown in from Hawaii to Bradley International Airport Thursday afternoon.
Surviving members of Drake’s extended family, all born after his death, never got a chance to know their Uncle Franny, but it’s an emotional homecoming for them all the same.

The VA wants veterans to be part of a new DNA database

CINCINNATI — The US Department of Veterans Affairs is asking veterans to be part of a new DNA database that could help deliver them better care.
The initiative – called the Million Veteran Program – is a national, voluntary research program funded entirely by the VA’s Office of Research & Development.

Analysis of remains from 1717 Cape shipwreck shows pirate had treasure in his pocket

WEST YARMOUTH, Mass. — It may not have belonged to legendary pirate Samuel “Black Sam” Bellamy, but a recent analysis of a bone fragment recovered from a 1717 pirate shipwreck off Cape Cod revealed some interesting information about the sailor who died in the waters off Massachusetts hundreds of years ago — with what appeared to be treasure in his pocket.

Loch Ness Monster Hunters to Try DNA Search? Get the Facts

National Geographic-A group of scientists plans to find out once and for all if Scotland’s most famous “resident,” the Loch Ness Monster, is or ever was hiding in the deep by sequencing as many DNA fragments as they can find in the lake’s murky waters.

Estimated 7,000 bodies may be buried at former asylum

STARKVILLE, MISS. Some of the boxes stacked inside anthropologist Molly Zuckerman’s laboratory contain full bones — a skull, a jaw, or a leg. Others contain only plastic bags of bone fragments that Zuckerman describes as “grit.”
These humble remains are among as many as 7,000 bodies that were buried at Mississippi’s former insane asylum, a site that’s now on the grounds of the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. Researchers are planning to exhume the bodies, create a memorial and study them for insight on how mentally ill people and other marginalized populations should be treated today.