Category Archives: Cold Cases

DNA Detectives: Scientists combining forensics with genealogy break ‘unsolvable’ cases

(InvestigateTV) – Thanks to a breakthrough in how DNA is used, more than 1,000 collective years worth of cold cases across the U.S. have been solved in just the last nine months.
Police are teaming up with genealogists to track killers through their blood lines.

Her body was found with her baby, still alive, beside her. 47 years later, an arrest

Investigators in Johnston County announced an arrest in a murder case Tuesday that ran cold for almost 47 years.
Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell re-opened the investigation into the killing of Bonnie Neighbors in 2007. He called it the oldest cold case in Johnston County.

A simple approach to dating bones

In the late 1990s, as an anthropology PhD student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Ann Ross travelled to Bosnia to help identify casualties of war. In her current role as head of the Human Identification and Forensic Analysis Laboratory at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, she does much the same for the people of her state. Her lab — a refurbished engineering space measuring about 90 square metres — has a contract with the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, which means that when a human skeleton is recovered, it is her job to determine what happened. The lab has enough tables for four skeletons. Most days, Ross says, all the tables are occupied: her lab is revisiting each of the state’s 130-odd cold cases, many dating back decades, to see whether modern forensic science can shed light on what happened.

Two murders stumped police for 40 years. The key was sitting in a bathroom cabinet.

Using updated DNA techniques, including genealogical research, investigators have tied Martinez to the two crimes. But as the San Luis Obispo Tribune reported on Wednesday, solving the decades-old killings also hinged on something so common that it’s found in nearly every household — a cluttered bathroom medicine cabinet.

Sex assault kit bill aims to end fear of victim-blaming, prevent case backlog

MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) State legislators want new laws in Wisconsin to protect victims of sexual assault and ensure there’s never another backlog of untested rape kits.
Sexual assault kit testing was one of former state attorney general Brad Schimel’s big initiatives, pushing to have all untested kits submitted to a crime lab, then having the DNA of the offender entered into national DNA databases.

MD Hits DNA Milestone

Maryland has now recorded its 7000th positive hit on its DNA database.
State Police say the hit involved a case out of Charles County. It was part of a 2003 rape case.

2 Women Were Killed on a Beach Vacation in 1973. A DNA Test Just Led to an Arrest.

A cold-case squad in Virginia Beach identified Mr. Broadnax, who is in his 80s, as a suspect by using technology that did not even exist when the women, Lynn Seethaler and Janice Pietropola, both 19, were killed inside a motel cottage near the oceanfront.

“Francine’s Law” Heads to the Governor

“The bill is named for Francine Frost, of Tulsa. Her family never quit looking for her after she went missing in 1981. More than three and a half decades later, remains that had been discovered two years after she was abducted were finally identified as hers, thanks to the determination of Francine’s family and the NamUs database,” Daniels said. “If this measure had been the law years ago, her case could have been solved sooner. I want to thank the Frost family for their strength and perseverance in helping bring this legislation forward.”

FBI says that the teen claiming to be missing Timmothy Pitzen is not him

The FBI announced today that DNA testing confirms that the teen found in Kentucky on Wednesday who claimed to be a missing child is not him.
The teen reportedly told authorities that he was Timmothy Pitzen, who was last seen when he was 6 years old and his mother took him out of school early in 2011, days before dying by suicide.

Scotland Yard silent over top expert’s offer to test McCann DNA for free, as $20m police operation requests more public money

London Metropolitan Police are refusing to comment on a potentially case-changing pro bono offer by one of the world’s top DNA scientists to analyse important DNA samples linked to Madeleine McCann’s disappearance for a UK investigation which has cost taxpayers more than $20m.

Inspired by DNA tech in Golden State Killer case, Alabama police crack decades-old double murder

An Alabama man is expected to appear in court Wednesday after new DNA technology linked him to a decades-old double murder. Coley McCraney, 45, faces charges in the 1999 killings of two high school students, Tracie Hawlett and J.B. Beasley. Investigators used the same technique that led to the arrest of the alleged Golden State Killer.

An unsolved homicide haunted a city for decades. Officials say the killer was there all along.

On a cold, snowy night 45 years ago in Billings, Mont., someone entered the home of Clifford and Linda Bernhardt and brutally killed them.
The 24-year-olds had saved for years to build a home and finally settled down on the quaintly named Dorothy Lane in the fall of 1973. It turned out their time there would be brief and would end in unspeakable tragedy.

A DNA Test Might Help Exonerate This Man. A Judge Won’t Allow It.

In “Case in Point,” Andrew Cohen examines a single case or character that sheds light on the criminal justice system. An audio version of Case in Point is broadcast with The Takeaway, a public radio show from WNYC, Public Radio International, The New York Times, and WGBH-Boston Public Radio.
Over the past decade, laboratories and lawmakers have expanded the power of DNA to exonerate the wrongfully convicted. Scientists can coax accurate results from trace amounts of DNA, even old or degraded samples. All 50 states allow post-conviction DNA tests.

More than 1,000 arrested after New York, feds join to get 100K rape kits tested

NEW YORK (AP) – Languishing evidence in over 100,000 sexual assault cases around the country has been sent for DNA testing with money from a New York prosecutor and federal authorities, spurring over 1,000 arrests and hundreds of convictions in three years, officials say.
It’s estimated that another 155,000 or more sex assault evidence kits still await testing, and thousands of results have yet to be linked to suspects. Many who have been identified can’t be prosecuted because of legal time limits and other factors.

Stains on ‘Jack the Ripper’ Shawl Probed with Science

A controversial “shawl” ostensibly connected to the third victim of Jack the Ripper has turned up mitochondrial DNA, which investigators say shows both that of Catherine Eddowes—and the long-elusive killer.
The paper in the Journal of Forensic Sciences says that the mtDNA profile points to one of the most popular Ripper suspects—a Polish Jew who was committed to an insane asylum for good shortly after the crimes stopped.