Monthly Archives: February 2020

The wear patterns of your jeans aren’t good forensic evidence

Is every pair of jeans like no other? According to the testimony of FBI forensic analysts, the patterns seen on denim are reliably unique and can be used to identify a suspect in surveillance footage.
The problem is, this technique has never been subjected to thorough scrutiny, and evidence acquired through it may not be as strong as it has been claimed to be. A paper published in PNAS this week puts denim-pattern analysis through its paces, finding that it isn’t particularly good at matching up identical pairs of jeans—and may create a number of “false alarm” errors to boot.

How a man convicted of his high school girlfriend’s killing was freed by decades-old DNA evidence

Before Leah Freeman’s body was found outside of her hometown of Coquille, Oregon, in 2000, her gym shoes, one of them bloody, were virtually the only physical clues police had to figure out what had happened to the missing 15-year-old.
Nearly 20 years later, one of those same shoes has played a key role in freeing from prison the only person who has ever been convicted of killing her: Freeman’s high school boyfriend Nick McGuffin.

Genetic DNA tool used to catch Sycamore double murder suspect marks 100th case for lab

The DNA genealogy mapping used to connect an Ohio man with the brutal homicide of Patricia Wilson and Robert Wilson in Sycamore 3½ years later is the same complex forensic tool used to identify a suspect in the Golden State Killer case in California.
CeCe Moore, chief genetic genealogist at Reston, Virginia-based company called Parabon NanoLabs – which undertook an arduous process of building a family tree for the offender using publicly available DNA databases – said Monday’s arrest marked the 100th case the laboratory has helped solve using the DNA technology. The labs also used genetic phenotyping using DNA taken from the scene to compile a rough digital sketch of what the Wilson murder suspect might look like.

A wrongfully convicted man who spent 23 years in prison will receive $1.5 million from the state of Kansas

Lamonte McIntyre spent 23 years behind bars for a double murder he didn’t commit. On Monday, he was awarded $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit for his wrongful conviction, the Kansas State Attorney General’s office announced.

Cutbacks by Ancestry, 23andMe Signal a Shakeout for DNA Industry

(Bloomberg) — Consumer DNA-testing firms are closing up shop and cutting jobs, as a lull in sales forces the industry to move beyond the genealogy tests that turned a handful of well-funded companies into household names.
At least three companies have closed down or suspended their operations over the past year, while the two DNA-testing bellwethers, Ancestry.com LLC and 23andMe Inc., each cut approximately 100 jobs in recent weeks. Others have pulled tests from the market thanks to slow sales.

California Becomes First State Accredited For New Technology Which Will Make It Easier To Test DNA Exposed To Harsh Conditions

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra [yesterday] announced a DNA technology advancement that will enable the California Department of Justice…to increase its ability to successfully identify unknown persons. The Department is the first accredited state crime lab in North America to begin fully sequencing mitochondrial DNA, which makes it easier to test degraded evidence samples that have been subjected to harsh environmental conditions. This advancement is particularly important for being able to process DNA involving unknown human remains and help families find closure regarding loved ones who have gone missing.

FDLE, Leon County Sheriff’s Office unveil nation’s first automated rapid DNA collection

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement along with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office announced Wednesday a new process being used at the Leon County Detention Facility.

Forensic genealogy group helps Cumberland County investigators crack 21-year-old cold case

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) — A popular genealogy website helped crack a cold case murder of a baby from 21 years ago.

Promega Custom Manufacturing Capabilities Aid in Rapid Development of Co-Diagnostics’ New Coronavirus Test

Promega Corporation is being recognized by Utah-based Co-Diagnostics, Inc. for the support Promega custom manufacturing provided in the rapid development and launch of the new Logix Smart™ COVID-19 Test. Co-Diagnostics yesterday afternoon announced its coronavirus test received CE mark approval and is now available in Europe as an in vitro diagnostic (IVD). The news comes roughly one month after Co-Diagnostics first began work on a test to detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

More than 1,000 DNA profiles added to national database from backlogged tested sexual assault kits

MADISON, Wis. (WSAW) — More than a thousand tested sexual assault kits have produced DNA that’s been added to a national database of DNA profiles, Wisconsin’s attorney general Josh Kaul announced Thursday. The announcement follows the completion of 4,472 tested sexual assault kits completed in November, after a statewide project to address a backlog of kits dating back to the 1980s began in 2016.

Woodlands-Based Biotech Company is Helping Solve America’s Cold Cases

Othram uses advanced DNA sequencing and proprietary software to enable human identification applications from degraded and often scare forensic DNA evidence. The company has built the first and only private laboratory to apply the power of modern genome sequencing in a forensic environment.

DNA match leads to arrest in 2004 sexual assault

“After 16 years, you either think your suspect is deceased or they’re already serving a prison term where it wasn’t required to collect their DNA,” said Mountain View Police Capt. Jessica Nowaski in an interview Friday. “I’m just really excited that we were able to bring closure to our victim.”

FBI could hold the key to a notorious Texas cold case. But the info isn’t being released.

AUSTIN — The FBI could hold the key to solving one of the most notorious cold cases in Texas history, but the federal agency won’t release the information because of privacy concerns.
Its stance has frustrated investigators, devastated family members and thrust Austin into the spotlight of a growing national debate over the novel use of what some call family-tree forensics.

Calif. man free after DNA site leads to new arrest in murder

PLACERVILLE, Calif. — California authorities used recently developed DNA techniques to free one man and implicate another for only the second time in the United States, officials said Thursday.
A man who spent about 15 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted in the slaying of his housemate has been exonerated after authorities used extended DNA links developed through publicly available genealogical websites to build a family tree that led to the arrest of a new suspect.

New ‘DNA clock’ finds that if our genes had their way, humans would have a ‘natural’ lifespan of 38 years

Humans have a “natural” lifespan of around 38 years, according to a new method we have developed for estimating the lifespans of different species by analysing their DNA.