Monthly Archives: May 2019

Ancient DNA Yields Snapshots of Vanished Ecosystems

Somewhere in a remote cave in western Georgia, a few dozen miles east of the Black Sea shore, scientists on an archaeological dig were searching among scattered stalagmites for pieces of the past. Ancient bones were strewn about on the floor of the cave, but those held only mild interest for the team. Instead, they gathered buckets of sediment, on the hunt for ancient DNA.

Thousands of rape kits nationwide never sent to crime labs

WASHINGTON (SBG) – The discovery of 11,000 untested rape kits in a Detroit storage facility a decade ago made national headlines. It was just the tip of the iceberg.
“Even if there’s a case that’s decades-old with very little evidence remaining, it’s still worth testing because we need very little material to obtain a DNA profile now,” said Erin Sweeney, the lab director at Bode Technology.

Bill requiring Illinois State Police to perform rapid DNA testing passes Senate

CHICAGO (WLS) — Action is being taken to reduce delays in testing DNA evidence that’s sitting unchecked.
A bipartisan state bill to implement “Rapid DNA” had already passed in the House, and on Tuesday, it passed unanimously in the Senate.

Texas Senate approves DNA collection on violent arrests

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Wednesday night, the Senate passed House Bill 1399, a bill allowing law enforcement to collect DNA samples of people they arrest for violent crimes like murder, rape, and assault.

Duluth Police: All backlog sexual assault kits tested, investigations ongoing

DULUTH, MN– Around this time last year, the Duluth Police Department was in over their heads.
Duluth was being called the worst city in the state when it came to efficiently testing sexual assault kits with hundreds of kits, some dating back to 1993.
Now, more than a year later, the department has submitted all of its kits and we’re learning the results of the testing.

Mass Funeral for Victims of Bosnia’s Koricanske Stijene Killings

According to the Missing Persons Institute, during the last exhumation conducted in the Koricanske Stijene area in 2017, a total of 135 people’s remains were exhumed and more than 1,000 samples sent for DNA.

Airbnb Partners With 23andMe to Make It Easier for People to Get In Touch With Their Roots or Something

When 23andMe customers undergo a DNA test, the company sends them an “ancestry composition” report that is supposed to show them where their ancestors came from. Now, when people receive this report, they can click through to find Airbnb offerings of activities and places to stay.

Hair Analysis in Forensic Science

Hair samples are one of the most important resources in the forensic analysis of crime scenes, often providing valuable information that can help to lead to the identification of a suspect or victim.

Sex assault charge dismissed in cold case as attorneys wrangle over DNA evidence

MARINETTE – The first-degree sexual assault charge filed against a northern Oconto County man accused of a double homicide nearly 43 years ago was dismissed Monday at hearing where defense attorneys signaled an intent to aggressively fight DNA evidence in the case.
Marinette County District Attorney DeShea Morrow did not dispute a defense motion to dismiss the charge against Raymond L. Vannieuwenhoven, which noted the statute of limitations had expired after six years.

Detective in Golden State Killer Case to Open 30th International Symposium on Human Identification (ISHI) September 23-26 in Palm Springs, CA

Paul Holes, the detective who helped identify the infamous Golden State Killer using investigative genealogy technologies, will open the 30th International Symposium on Human Identification (ISHI) September 23-26 in Palm Springs, CA. The meeting is the largest annual scientific symposium focusing entirely on DNA forensics drawing nearly 1000 law enforcement professionals and scientists from around the world.

Iraqi forensic DNA scientists train at Marshall

HUNTINGTON – The Marshall University Forensic Science Center (MUFSC) partnered with the U.S. Department of Justice International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program and Science Applications International Corp. earlier this month in Huntington to provide advanced DNA validation training to 18 forensic DNA scientists with the Republic of Iraq Ministry of Interior Criminal Evidence Directorate, including its director, Major General Talib Khalil Raahi.

Can Criminal Defendants Review DNA Analysis Software Used to Prosecute Them?

Fresno – On Wednesday, May 22, at 9 am, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will argue that criminal defendants have a right to review and evaluate the source code of forensic DNA analysis software programs used to create evidence against them. The case, California v. Johnson, is on appeal to a California appeals court.

Woman accused in death of newborn granted pretrial release

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A South Dakota woman charged with murder in the death of her newborn who was abandoned in a ditch 38 years ago has been released from jail.
Theresa Bentaas, 57, has been in the Minnehaha County Jail since her arrest March 8. Investigators said they used advances in DNA evidence and genealogy sites to determine she was the mother of the infant, called Baby Andrew, whose body was found wrapped in a blanket in a cornfield ditch in Sioux Falls in February 1981.

DNA database opts a million people out from police searches

A major DNA database that has been pivotal in solving US cold crime cases has blocked law enforcement access to the profiles of a million people, in a setback for investigators and a victory for campaigners.

The Teeth of Early Neanderthals May Indicate the Species’ Lineage Is Older Than Thought

In a cave called the ‘pit of bones,’ up in the Atapuerca Mountains of Spain, a collection of 430,000-year-old teeth are curiously smaller than might be expected for the skulls they were found with. The anomaly has one scientist suggesting that the lineages of modern humans and Neanderthals split some 800,000 years ago, tens of thousands of years earlier than genetic studies have estimated.