Author Archives: ForensicConnect

‘I’m a prince’: After years of searching for family history, a pastor discovers royal ties to Africa

It was about 4 a.m. when his phone buzzed with a message from far away. He read it once, twice, three times before he woke his sleeping wife to tell her the news.
“I’m a prince,” he whispered as she blinked herself awake. “A prince.”

Inside Maine crime lab that helped catch suspected Alaska cold case killer

AUGUSTA, Maine —The Maine State Crime Lab played a critical role in the recent arrest of a Maine man in connection with a 26-year-old cold case killing in Alaska.
The lab processed a cheek swab from Steve Downs and uploaded the results to a state and federal database known as the Combined DNA Index System.

Police revived a 1973 murder case by live-tweeting a girl’s last day. Now, a DNA match has led to an arrest.

On the day Linda Ann O’Keefe died, it was a cooler-than-normal July morning in Newport Beach, Calif. The brown-haired, blue-eyed 11-year-old got a ride to summer school — about half a mile away — but had to walk home in the afternoon.
It was July 6, 1973, a Friday. When O’Keefe didn’t return home right away, there was little concern at first. But when night fell and her whereabouts were still unknown, her parents called police and desperately combed the neighborhood, to no avail.

Bill seeks to prohibit using DNA databases to solve crime

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — After police used a new technique to arrest a man suspected of being the Golden State Killer, a Maryland legislator proposed a law that would prohibit use of a familial DNA database for the purpose of crime-solving.
House bill 30, sponsored by Delegate Charles Sydnor, D-Baltimore County, seeks to prohibit searches of consumer genealogical databases for the purpose of identifying an offender in connection with a crime through their biological relative’s DNA samples.

Woman whose daughter was raped, murdered pursues law changes in NC

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — The man accused in a string of sexual assaults known as the Ramsey Street Rapes will face a judge on Tuesday. DNA testing and genetic genealogy led police to charge Darold Wayne Bowden in the case.
One woman is pushing to change DNA collection laws our state. She’s changed legislation in North Carolina before and she’s determined to do it again.

The Lab Discovering DNA in Old Books

Artifacts have genetic material hidden inside, which can help scientists understand the past.

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.”