Monthly Archives: February 2019

A suspected killer eluded capture for 25 years. Then investigators got his aunt’s DNA.

The April 1993 slaying of Sophie Sergie, an Alaska Native, was one of the state’s most notorious cold cases until Friday, when authorities announced that DNA genealogical mapping helped triangulate a genetic match with Steven Downs, 44, a nurse in Auburn, Maine.

Vietnamese sisters reunited in USA after 44 years

During the fall of Saigon, the two sisters and their mother were set to be airlifted out of Saigon before the North Vietnamese captured it. However, 2-year-old Rose wandered off from her family. Their mother frantically looked for the younger sister to no avail.
In the end, she had to make the tough decision to depart without her younger daughter.

Authorities plead for help identifying a human FOOT inside a shoe that washed up on Canadian beach – the 15th time it has happened in just a decade

British Columbia Coroners Service said in a statement on Monday that the foot was discovered still in its shoe on the coast of West Vancouver in September.
DNA testing found no match with the owner and known missing persons, but an evaluation of its bone structure of the foot led a specialist to believe that it belonged to a male under the age of 50.

Creating ‘DNA Barcodes,’ Researchers Work to Speed up Forensic Analysis

One researcher, from MIT Lincoln Laboratory, a Department of Defense Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC), is seeking to simplify and speed up forensic DNA comparisons bit by bit—literally. Darrell Ricke, Ph.D., is leading research at the lab that would reduce the time and computer power needed for DNA analysis, by encoding the millions of loci and alleles into units of computer data that can then be compared using basic logical commands. Two algorithms developed through Ricke’s research to make these comparisons—FastID and TachysSTR—earned Lincoln Lab one of its 10 R&D 100 awards this past November.

F.B.I. Hopes Samuel Little’s Drawings Will Help Identify His Murder Victims

They are haunting drawings: black, white and Latina women, most of them youthful, with bright lips and lined eyes, staring plaintively at the viewer.
The women were etched in chalk pastel by the man who says he killed them, in a spree he says began in 1970 and continued for decades. If verified, that would make him among the most prolific serial killers in American history.

Kew Gardens scientists test DNA of wood in fight against illegal logging

Interpol estimates that illegal logging is worth between £23 billion and £76 billion annually, with up to 30 per cent of all internationally traded timber thought to be illegally sourced.

More than 26 million people have added their DNA to four leading ancestry databases: report

Millions of people have willingly given up their privacy via their own DNA, thanks to the growing popularity of at-home ancestry tests.
More than 26 million people have taken DNA tests from at least one of the four major consumer genetics companies, according to a recent study by MIT Technology Review.

St. George Police officer recognized for ‘amazing’ detective work in solving rape case

ST. GEORGE — A St. George Police officer is among several city employees to have received recognition for going above and beyond the call of duty.
During a public meeting at City Hall Thursday evening, St. George Police Detective Josh Wilson was honored with the city’s “Brighter Side” award for his work solving a case of brutal sexual assault perpetrated against a woman last spring.

Bode Technology Announces Forensic Genealogy Service to Law Enforcement Agencies and Crime Laboratories

“It is estimated that 50% of the samples entered into the national database do not result in matches, nor support investigations,” said Mike Cariola, President and CEO of Bode Technology. “Over the past three years alone, Bode has processed nearly 50,000 sexual assault kits. Every one of these cases that goes unmatched, thus unsolved in CODIS, is a candidate for forensic genealogy. Victims deserve justice and perpetrators need to be caught before they commit more crimes.”

Father’s Body To Be Exhumed Over Fears Son Wrongly Convicted Of Rape

A family which believes their father may be guilty of historical rapes for which his son was convicted have won permission to have his body exhumed.

A dogged investigator made sure the ‘Boy under the Billboard’ was not forgotten

HILLSBOROUGH When a young boy’s skeleton was found under an Interstate 85-40 billboard in September 1998, Orange County investigators knew almost nothing about who he was, how he got there, or who killed him.
The case of the “Boy Under the Billboard” would remain unsolved until DNA science and a determined Orange County investigator caught up with his killer just last week.

Harper Angel files bill giving victims of rape online access to track sexual assault kits

FRANKFORT – The 2019 Legislative Session opened with Senator Denise Harper Angel continuing her work for victims of sexual assault — specifically on the testing of sexual assault forensic kits. After successfully passing two related bills, the senator has turned her focus to the online tracking of rape kits.

Experts say DNA identification of victims of pipeline blast almost impossible

Recovering DNA from the charred remains of people killed in the petroleum pipeline explosion in Hidalgo last month is almost impossible, genetics experts say.
The death toll from the blast and fire that spread across a field in the municipality of Tlahuelilpan on January 18 has reached 126. Of the 68 people who died at the scene, just 16 have been identified.

How ‘optical tweezers’ could address one of crime labs’ biggest challenges

When potential DNA evidence—say, from a sexual assault case—is submitted to a forensic lab for analysis, the scientists are often faced with the time-consuming challenge of sorting out which DNA profile came from the victim and which came from the criminal.

New Solicitation: Postconviction Testing of DNA Evidence, Fiscal Year 2019

With this solicitation, NIJ seeks proposals for funding to assist in defraying the costs associated with postconviction DNA testing in cases of violent felony offenses (as defined by State law) in which actual innocence might be demonstrated.
Funds may be used to identify and review such postconviction cases, and to locate and analyze associated biological evidence.
All applications are due by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on May 6, 2019.
Applicants must register with Grants.gov prior to submitting an application.