Author Archives: ForensicConnect

Why screening DNA for ‘designer babies’ probably won’t work

Picking embryos based on genetics might not give prospective parents the “designer baby” they’re after.
DNA predictions of height or IQ might help would-be parents select an embryo that would grow into a child who is, at most, only about three centimeters taller or about three IQ points smarter than an average embryo from the couple, researchers report November 21 in Cell. But offspring predicted by their DNA to be the tallest among siblings were actually the tallest in only seven of 28 real families, the study found. And in five of those families, the child predicted to be tallest was actually shorter than the average for the family.

Estate of executed man has no standing to obtain DNA testing, judge rules

A Memphis judge on Monday tossed a petition to obtain DNA testing in the case of a man executed 13 years ago.
Judge Paula Skahan ruled the estate of Sedley Alley did not have standing to petition for the DNA. The Associated Press, the Memphis Commercial Appeal and the New York Times have coverage.

How One Archaeologist–Artist Completely Reconstructed the Body of a 7,000-Year-Old Woman

Oscar Nilsson is a world-renowned reconstruction artist, taking the remains of prehistoric humans and bringing them back to life using a complex system of anatomical analysis, 3D printing, and occasional DNA analysis. But what’s equally vital to his job is a sense of context.

Arkansas ahead of the curve in testing sexual assault kits

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) — Thousands of sexual assault kits still need to be analyzed nationwide according to the latest data released.
As part of a sexual assault kit survey of all DNA laboratories in the country, the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors estimated 98,022 kits still need analysis.
Kermit Channel also emphasized the state is ahead of the curve on testing kits. He credits legislation passed in 2019 which mandates a tracking system.

Dutch police podcast unearths clues to decades-old murder

True crime podcasts are nothing new, but for police in the Netherlands this was an unprecedented venture. Thousands tuned in to the three-part series when it aired last month and tip-offs have been coming in ever since.

Madison police arrest suspect in woman’s 1994 death

MADISON (WKOW) — Dane County Court records show Madison police arrested a 52-year-old man in Indiana for reckless homicide Wednesday in connection with a woman’s death in Madison twenty-five years ago.
A major break came in December of 2015 when the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory learned of a CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) DNA match, linking Coleman to the case, according to police. A criminal complaint states in 2017, technicians at the state crime lab matched more DNA from Cunnigan’s sweater and other places to Coleman.

No Nuclear DNA in Rootless Hair: Myth or Fact?

Hair shafts, particularly rootless ones (telogen hair), are common exhibits found in crime scenes. They can be deposited either normally due to shedding or by force due to hair plucking. Based on the American Academy of Dermatology, the normal rate of shed hair per day is 50 to100 strands [1]. However due to the structure and the composition of hair, it was believed for decades that shed telogen hair has no nuclear DNA.

Ultrasensitive protein method lets scientists ID someone from a single strand of hair

A new forensic technique could have criminals—and some prosecutors—tearing their hair out: Researchers have developed a method they say can identify a person from as little as 1 centimeter of a single strand of hair—and that is eight times more sensitive than similar protein analysis techniques. If the new method ever makes it into the courtroom, it could greatly expand the ability to identify the people at the scene of a crime.

The truth about the NYPD and DNA: Keep open vital database invaluable in solving crimes

In the past six years, the NYPD has made New York a safer and fairer city in numerous ways, scaling back on arrests by 45% and targeting our investigative resources with far greater precision than in the past. Restricting or prohibiting the use of DNA and photo-recognition technologies would force investigators to fall back on less reliable and accurate means of identification, including eyewitnesses, who are less successful than technology at identifying people accurately.

Chinese parents test DNA to check if kids will become prodigies

Gene Discovery does brisk business hawking DNA tests out of a warren of rooms in Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district. More than half of its clients are from China’s mainland, where parents eager to shape their offspring into prodigies are fuelling the advance of a growing but largely unregulated industry. It’s a Chinese version of helicopter parenting that reflects the country’s tendency to push the boundaries when it comes to genetics, part of a broader race to dominate the field with ramifications for how the life-altering science is used throughout the world.

DNA holds promise in finding fugitive Lester Eubanks but FBI rules, privacy questions loom

The Marshals have been trying to gain approvals to compare his biological son’s DNA against samples of DNA collected from unsolved crime scene evidence around the country in hopes that it will yield a match and offer hints to Eubanks’ new identity or recent location.

New DNA investigation technique helps solve 2 SoCal cold cases

BURBANK, Calif. (KABC) — Authorities are pursuing a first-of-its-kind case in Los Angeles County – a murder prosecution using evidence from a commercial genealogy database.

How massively parallel sequencing platforms are revolutionizing forensic analysis

In this expert interview, we hear from Prof. Bobby LaRue about improved depth of coverage and high-power discrimination in mixed DNA analysis

Colombia adoptees find family decades after volcano tragedy

BOGOTA, Colombia — Jenifer de la Rosa was just a week old when Colombia’s Nevado del Ruiz volcano exploded, unleashing a wall of mud that buried an entire town and left 25,000 dead.
In the chaotic aftermath of the 1985 disaster the infant was handed over to a Red Cross worker and eventually adopted by a Spanish couple.
Now a documentary filmmaker, she’s been on a quest to answer one question that has haunted her: What happened to her biological family?

Police arrest alleged ‘Potomac River Rapist’ linked to attacks in Maryland and Georgetown

New advances in genetic testing allowed police to have the genetic samples collected at crime scenes compared with people who submitted their DNA to explore their family lineage. That led police to five relatives, and detectives narrowed the list to a suspect who had lived in Maryland at the time of the attacks and worked as a landscaper.