Author Archives: ForensicConnect

Playing Catch a Killer With a Room Full of Sleuths

At a forensic conference in California, law enforcement officials grappled with how to avoid destroying one of the field’s biggest innovations in decades.

Despite DNA evidence, statute of limitations prevents prosecution of Ohio rape cases

Our exclusive three-month 5 On Your Side Investigation reveals how Ohio fails sexual assault victims. We uncovered dozens of cases that will never be prosecuted, despite compelling DNA evidence, because of Ohio’s current statute of limitations.

Arrest made in death of Federal Way teen nearly 30 years after her body was found

NA found on two cigarette butts was the evidence King County sheriff’s detectives said they needed to make an arrest in the homicide of Sarah Yarborough, a 16-year-old drill-team member who was found strangled on the campus of Federal Way High School nearly three decades ago.

U.S. Government Plans to Collect DNA From Detained Immigrants

Senior officials at the Department of Homeland Security said Wednesday that the Justice Department was developing a federal regulation that would give immigration officers the authority to collect DNA in detention facilities across the country that are currently holding more than 40,000 people.

Sexual Assault Kit Task Force to use genealogical searches to track down ‘John Doe’ rapists

The Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Kit Task Force will pilot a project that uses a federal grant to do genealogical database searches to identify ‘John Doe’ rapists they have indicted based on DNA profiles found in rape kits.

The Messy Consequences of the Golden State Killer Case

This summer should have been a triumphant time for genealogy and forensics. It marked a year since a genealogist had helped law enforcement track down the man suspected of being the notorious Golden State Killer, and in the ensuing months genealogists had helped police identify suspects in more than 40 other cases. In June, such work led to its first conviction. In July, the first exoneration.

The Massive, Overlooked Potential of African DNA

When evening falls on a solar-panel-clad building outside the Nigerian city of Lagos, its generators roar to life. The electrical grid here is unpredictable, and the company that works out of the building, 54gene, isn’t taking any chances. Losing power, even for a few hours, isn’t an option when you’re housing thousands of tubes of blood and spit at a stable –80 degrees Celsius.

Missing Box Contains Bones of Britain’s Early Inhabitants

A box of bones stored in an archive for 55 years has turned out the contain some of the oldest human remains ever found on the island of Great Britain. Carbon dating reveals that the bones found in a cave in Somerset are as old or even older than those of Cheddar Man, the earliest-known inhabitant of the island, also found in Somerset.

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.