Monthly Archives: August 2019

Under the Microscope – Nicole Novroski

De-convolution of complex mixtures can be challenging. Various improvements in polymerase chain reaction coupled with capillary electrophoresis (PCR-CE) and massively parallel sequencing (MPS) chemistries coupled with downstream statistical analyses have been developed and implemented to better resolve two or more person DNA mixtures. However, current genotyping outputs describe STR variation solely based on allele size and do not exploit the full genetic information contained within target markers to distinguish between or among component contributors.

Under the Microscope – Brittney Chilton

In her presentation at ISHI, Brittney Chilton (Criminalist II at the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Science Division) will share the story of Washoe County employee, Chris Long. In 2014, Chris was diagnosed with AML/MDS Leukemia. He underwent a stem cell/bone marrow transplant and volunteered to participate in a case study led by the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Science Division. This case study is ongoing and monitors the fluctuation of DNA profiles from both the recipient and donor in various bodily fluids and tissues.

Inside Afghanistan’s main forensic lab: Four scientists, one microscope

KABUL, Afghanistan — When a suicide bomber targeted a wedding hall in the Afghan capital last week, killing at least 80 people, many of the bodies were brought to a dilapidated two-story block on the perimeter of Kabul.
This is the Forensic Medicine Directorate, Criminal Techniques Department, the only functioning criminal forensic laboratory in Afghanistan, where a team of four molecular biologists juggles hundreds of cases a week, including victims of rape, drug overdoses, homicide, and bombings.

Under the Microscope – Lisa Mertz

Within the past 15-20 years, successful technological advances in forensic science have solved many cold cases. The increase in the number of possible items that might presently be tested as evidence in criminal matters, in general, has led to the need for collaborative efforts among the New York City DNA Laboratory, the New York City Police Department, and the New York City District Attorney’s Offices.

State crime lab director retiring after 30 years

CONCORD — Tim Pifer was 27 years old when he was tasked with collecting fingerprints from the Derry condominium where Gregg Smart was murdered in 1990. The scene of the murder site was Pifer’s first crime scene, working as a forensic scientist for New Hampshire’s forensic laboratory.

How a DNA database helped solve a horrific double murder

A monster came knocking at Kathryn Crigler’s door just after dark on Labor Day 1990.
An 81-year-old leg amputee who got around in a wheelchair, Crigler lived in a tidy little house on busy Highway 182 in the college town of Starkville, Miss., a couple of miles from the Mississippi State campus.

Under the Microscope – Regina Wells

Laboratories across the country are dealing with backlogs of sexual assault kits waiting to be tested. Laws in many states have changed requiring all kits to be tested, increasing the caseload for laboratories as well as the turnaround time in which results are obtained. The ANDE 6C Rapid DNA System can analyze an evidence sample in under two hours; however, sexual assault kits are challenging due to mixtures of the victim and suspect’s DNA.

Healthy Nevada Project is studying the strands of our DNA

It started with a cup of coffee.

Can DNA solve the mystery of Europe’s pointy skulls?

Skull modification may have been an extreme way to declare one’s identity during the Migration Period (ca. 300-700 A.D.), when so-called “barbarian” groups like the Goths and the Huns were vying for control of territory in Europe after the collapse of the Roman Empire. Could ancient DNA help archaeologists pinpoint what exactly those cultural alliances were?

DNA match leads to man’s arrest in violent 1993 abduction

Using a discarded cigarette butt, evidence from an old shirt and a DNA profile from a genealogy company, Logan County authorities have arrested and charged a man with the attempted murder of a 19-year-old woman 26 years ago.
It was a classic combination of modern technology and shoe-leather police work that led to the arrest Monday and the indictment Tuesday of Ralph E. Bortree, who faces a single count of attempted murder, said Logan County Prosecutor Eric Stewart. Bortree, 55, now in the Logan County jail, also is accused of abducting and raping that woman July 31, 1993, but the statute of limitations to charge him with those crimes has expired.

UK Police Investigations Still Affected by Ransomware Attack

The June ransomware attack against one of the largest forensic labs in the U.K. continues to delay police investigations in Britain while authorities await test results.
At one point, authorities were confronted with a backlog of 20,000 forensic samples – including DNA and blood-samples – that were awaiting analysis for criminal cases, according to a report by the BBC.

RCMP unveil new, state-of-the-art forensics lab in Surrey

A new police laboratory in North Surrey is expected to handle thousands of forensic services from across the country each year.
RCMP took ownership of its new lab on July 15, located at E-Division headquarters in North Surrey at 14200 Green Timbers Way.

DNA Analysis Just Made The Eerie Mystery of Himalayan ‘Skeleton Lake’ Even Stranger

High in the Himalayas of India, amid the snow-capped peaks, nestles a mystery. Roopkund Lake is a shallow body of water filled with human bones – the skeletons of hundreds of individuals. It’s these that give the lake its other name, Skeleton Lake, and no one knows how the remains came to be there.

N.Y.P.D. Detectives Gave a Boy, 12, a Soda. He Landed in a DNA Database.

The city has 82,473 people in its database. Many of them have no idea their genetic information is there.

Ashton Kutcher’s Testimony Could Potentially Find The Alleged ‘Hollywood Ripper’ Not Guilty.

Gargiulo’s trial for the two California murders and the attempted murder started on May 2 (he is being tried separately for the Illinois murder of Pacaccio). Even though there’s little DNA evidence in the three murders, the prosecution is trying to prove similarities in all the attacks, linking Gargiulo to the murders, saying he stalked and “thrill killed” his victims. The defense, however, is suggesting that due to lack of DNA evidence in the murders, it’s possible other suspects with closer relationships to the victims could be responsible for the murders. It’s Kutcher’s testimony the defense is focusing on, casting doubt on Gargiulo’s guilt for Ellerin’s murder, and thus all the murders.