Monthly Archives: September 2019

The Fight To Bring A Deadly Illegal Industry To Justice

Wildlife crime is often overlooked and under-prosecuted but involves huge, organised criminal networks. Modern investigative techniques, at the cutting edge of solving human crimes, are now helping to catch the poachers, smugglers and traffickers who are destroying our natural world.

DOJ Announces Forensic Genealogy Guidelines At Palm Springs Conference


It’s the largest DNA forensic conference in the world and it’s in our own backyard. The International Symposium on Human Identification is a place where the most respected in the industry can talk about emerging technologies.
The biggest topic on the agenda this year is forensic genealogy. Forensic genealogy is law enforcement going after unsolved crimes by utilizing databases through genealogy sites like Ancestory.com.

Thousands of backlogged rape kits have been tested, with many yielding results, FDLE says

About 8,000 previously untested rape kits have been processed since late 2014 — resulting in nearly 2,000 DNA matches — as part of an effort to clear a backlog prompted by a lack of funding, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced Friday.
The completed tests were part of a three-year project that followed an assessment in 2016 which found more than 10,000 rape kits had gone untested, leaving victims in the dark about their cases.

First portrait of extinct Denisovan human relative created from pinky bone DNA

While much is known about Neanderthals and how they lived, Denisovans have remained enigmatic because only a handful of bone fragments from the ancient group have ever been found.
But now we have a good idea of how Denisovans looked. In a study published Thursday in the journal Cell, scientists took DNA from a Denisovan pinky bone found in a Siberian cave in 2008 and used it to predict Denisovan anatomical features.

‘Korean Zodiac Killer’ who inspired Bong Joon-ho film might be caught

The police were finally able to link Lee Chun-jae, 56, to three of the unsolved murders, using DNA evidence found on a victim’s underwear, The Guardian reported.

‘A serial killer off the streets’: Florida man charged in woman’s death linked to slayings of three others

A man linked to the deaths of at least four women dating back more than a decade has been arrested in Florida, authorities announced Monday.

Virginia attorneys are getting a crash course in DNA testing to help them in the courtroom

It can be used to connect multiple victims to one attacker, like in the case of a man accused of raping six women from Virginia Beach to Williamsburg.
It can uphold juries’ findings from decades ago, like when a test confirmed the attacker in a 1974 Virginia Beach rape case.
It can exonerate innocent people and convict guilty ones — if the lawyers fighting to defend or prosecute grasp the science behind it.
But not all lawyers fully understand what happens when criminal DNA evidence is tested and how forensic scientists come to their conclusions. And not understanding the science could lead to trouble in the courtroom.

Why This Scientist Keeps Receiving Packages of Serial Killers’ Hair

Those fortunate enough to have a head of hair generally leave 50 to 100 strands behind on any given day. Those hairs are hardy, capable of withstanding years or even centuries of rain, heat and wind.
The trouble for detectives, or anyone else seeking to figure out whom a strand of hair belonged to, is that unless it contains a root, which only a tiny percentage do, it’s about as helpful as a nearby rock.

New Version of STRmix Features Improvements in Resolving Profiles, Input Quality Checks

The latest version of STRmix™ – the sophisticated forensic software used to resolve mixed DNA profiles previously considered too complex to interpret – has been launched.
STRmix™ v2.7 builds on previous versions of STRmix™, while adding several key new features. These include the addition of a variable number of contributors (varNOC) for multi-kits and the ability to compare two or more DNA mixtures to find a common contributor.

Forensic science isn’t ‘reliable’ or ‘unreliable’: It depends on the questions you’re trying to answer

After recent criticism in the US and the UK, forensic science is now coming under attack in Australia. Several recent reports have detailed concerns that innocent people have been jailed because of flawed forensic techniques.
Among the various cases presented, it is surprising that the most prominent recent miscarriage of justice in Victoria did not rate a mention: the wrongful conviction of Farah Jama, who was found guilty of rape in 2008 before the verdict was overturned in 2009.

1.7-Million-Year-Old Rhino Tooth Provides Oldest DNA Data Ever Studied

DNA sequencing has revolutionized the way researchers study evolution and animal taxonomy. But DNA has its limits—it’s a fragile molecule that degrades over time. So far, the oldest DNA sequenced came from a 700,000-year-old horse frozen in permafrost. But a new technique based on the emerging field of proteomics has begun to unlock the deep past, and recently researchers extracted genetic information from the tooth enamel of a rhinoceros that lived 1.7 million years ago.

Tuam survivors ‘pleased’ they can offer their DNA samples can be taken

Groups representing survivors of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home have cautiously welcomed a new report which said that their DNA can be taken without the need for new legislation.
The report, prepared by Dr Geoffrey Shannon following a call from the Tuam Home Survivors’ Network in February, found that while the current legislative framework may not suitable for the collection of such samples, it could be done by way of a voluntary administrative scheme and without the need for new legislation.

A girl was found dead at the beach after a bike ride in 1972. DNA helped police identify a suspect

(CNN)An 11-year-old girl went on a bike ride on Thanksgiving Day in 1972. The next day her body was found dumped on a rocky beach near the Pacific Ocean in Southern California. She’d been raped and strangled.
Police conducted more than 2,000 interviews and followed numerous leads but could not identify a suspect in the death of Terri Lynn Hollis until this year. On Wednesday, Torrance police announced a suspect — now dead — has been identified through a match made on a national DNA database.

Scientists Find the Skull of Humanity’s Ancestor, on a Computer

Now researchers like Dr. Mounier are using computers and mathematical techniques to reconstruct the appearance of fossils they have yet to find. On Tuesday, Dr. Mounier and Marta Mirazón Lahr, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Cambridge in Britain, unveiled a virtual skull belonging to the last common ancestor of all modern humans, who lived in Africa about 300,000 years ago.

Head of Public Security Department signs contract for ‘safe kits’ analysis

Use translation tool in Chrome or web browser. The Secretary of the Department of Public Security (DSP), Elmer Román González , signed on Friday in the state of Virginia the contract with Bode Cellmark Forensics , Inc, which will be the laboratory that will analyze the safe kits pending evaluation in the Bureau of Forensic Sciences .
“With the signing of this contract, we will finally have answers for hundreds of people and families who have waited for years to be certain about a painful personal tragedy. Likewise, we will have the possibility of prosecuting those responsible for the commission of these sexual crimes. This is fundamental in the process, not only of doing justice in terms of law and order, but also of giving peace and allowing closing personal and emotional chapters, ”explained the secretary of the DSP in written communication.