Author Archives: ForensicConnect

Harper Angel files bill giving victims of rape online access to track sexual assault kits

FRANKFORT – The 2019 Legislative Session opened with Senator Denise Harper Angel continuing her work for victims of sexual assault — specifically on the testing of sexual assault forensic kits. After successfully passing two related bills, the senator has turned her focus to the online tracking of rape kits.

Experts say DNA identification of victims of pipeline blast almost impossible

Recovering DNA from the charred remains of people killed in the petroleum pipeline explosion in Hidalgo last month is almost impossible, genetics experts say.
The death toll from the blast and fire that spread across a field in the municipality of Tlahuelilpan on January 18 has reached 126. Of the 68 people who died at the scene, just 16 have been identified.

How ‘optical tweezers’ could address one of crime labs’ biggest challenges

When potential DNA evidence—say, from a sexual assault case—is submitted to a forensic lab for analysis, the scientists are often faced with the time-consuming challenge of sorting out which DNA profile came from the victim and which came from the criminal.

New Solicitation: Postconviction Testing of DNA Evidence, Fiscal Year 2019

With this solicitation, NIJ seeks proposals for funding to assist in defraying the costs associated with postconviction DNA testing in cases of violent felony offenses (as defined by State law) in which actual innocence might be demonstrated.
Funds may be used to identify and review such postconviction cases, and to locate and analyze associated biological evidence.
All applications are due by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on May 6, 2019.
Applicants must register with Grants.gov prior to submitting an application.

How to Delete Your Data From 23andMe, Ancestry, and Other Sites

If you’ve sent a DNA sample such as a tube of spit to 23andMe, Ancestry, MyHeritage, or one of the many other companies that offer direct-to-consumer genetic testing, you’ve sent them the essential information they need to provide you with their analysis of your genetic code.
But if you later decide that you want to remove your genetic information from the web for privacy reasons, can you? And should you?

Her murder went unsolved for nearly 40 years.

Rose Ann Hlavka came home to the modest brick apartment building just northwest of Portland, Ore.’s downtown around 10 p.m. expecting to find her 20-year-old sister, Anna Marie. The siblings not only shared a home but they both also worked at a nearby McDonald’s, where Anna Marie Hlavka had gotten off a few hours earlier.
But her sister didn’t answer when Rose Ann opened the door and called her name on that night, July 24, 1979. She soon discovered why: Anna Marie was sprawled dead in the bedroom. She had been strangled and sexually assaulted.

Major DNA Testing Company Sharing Genetic Data With the FBI

The decision by a prominent consumer DNA-testing company to share data with federal law enforcement means investigators have access to genetic information linked to hundreds of millions of people.

Belgium children face DNA tests amid DR Congo kidnap fears

Belgian authorities have asked for DNA samples of children adopted from the Democratic Republic of Congo to establish if their biological parents are still alive, reports say.
They have contacted the adoptive parents of some 15 children to find out if the youngsters were kidnapped, according to Belgian newspapers.

Delaware DNA Collection Bill Is Ready

The bill amends section 4713 of Title 29 of the Delaware Code to require buccal swab DNA sampling of persons arrested for (instead of convicted of) certain violent felonies. It also requires blood DNA sampling of persons convicted of violent felonies,incarcerated in the Delaware correctional facilities.

Tuam babies: Survivors call for immediate DNA tests

More than 20 survivors of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home have called on the Irish government to take their DNA samples urgently.
The excavation of the Galway site, containing the remains of children buried in unmarked graves, is to begin later this year.

Familial DNA searching- an emerging forensic investigative too

Abstract
In recent years, jurisdictions across the United States have expressed a growing interest in aiding criminal investigations through the use of familial DNA searching (FDS)- a forensic technique to identify family members through DNA databases. The National Survey of CODIS Laboratories surveyed U.S. CODIS laboratories about their perceptions, policies, and practices related to FDS. In total, 103 crime labs completed the survey (77% response rate). Labs in 11 states reported using FDS, while labs in 24 states reported using a similar-but distinct- practice of partial matching. Although the majority of labs had positive perceptions about the ability of FDS to assist investigations, labs also reported a number of concerns and challenges with implementing FDS. Respondents reported using either practice a limited amount with modest numbers of convictions resulting from both FDS and partial matching. The article reports on varying practices related to official policies, training, eligibility, the software search, lineage testing, requirements for releasing information, and subsequent investigative work. Finally, the article discusses what can be learned from this survey, accompanying limitations, and implications for decision-makers considering using FDS.

The research discussed in this article is the result of an NIJ-funded project but the article was not published by the U.S. Department of Justice. Opinions or points of view expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Joe Biden: Every ‘Untested Rape Kit Means A Survivor Without Justice’

It’s estimated that hundreds of thousands of rape kits still sit untested in police facilities around the country.

Judge: New DNA evidence means man is entitled to new trial

Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge John Allen ruled last week that Gates is entitled to a new trial, citing new testing that showed his DNA was not on the fabric used to bind Wright. The judge also found that prosecutors at Gates’ trial purposely excluded black jurors, but he wrote that evidence of that behavior was presented too late to declare a new trial on those grounds.

Exonerated man pitches senate on forensic science bill

RICHMOND, Va. — A bill to help people wrongfully convicted by flawed forensic science is under consideration in Virginia, helped by a man who spent more than three decades in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

Maryland bill would further curb police use of DNA databases

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland’s legislature is considering expanding restrictions on how law enforcement uses DNA databases to identify criminal suspects.