Category Archives: Forensic Industry News

Kary Mullis, unconventional Nobel laureate who unlocked DNA research, dies at 74

The technique for which Dr. Mullis shared the Nobel in 1993 was known as polymerase chain reaction, called PCR for short, and it enabled scientists to make millions or billions of copies of a single tiny segment of the DNA molecule.

An Israeli soldier went MIA 37 years ago. International intrigue and DNA testing brought him home.

TEL AVIV — For decades, Israel’s National Center of Forensic Medicine has tested skeletal remains secreted across its northern border, checking whether the DNA matched that of Israeli soldiers missing in action behind enemy lines in Lebanon or Syria.
“From time to time they’d bring the samples,” said Chen Kugel, the head of the forensics center. “It’s body remains. It’s bones. It was always: maybe this time, maybe this time, maybe this time.”
There was never a match.
Then, earlier this year, a bag of bones arrived, and from the moment it was opened, it looked promising. The staff soon determined that the bones belonged to Staff Sgt. Zachary Baumel, who had gone missing in Lebanon 37 years ago.

Federal funding necessary for clearing rape kit backlog

Congress has the opportunity to renew important funding for helping solve a critical issue in the U.S. — the number of untested rape kits languishing on shelves of police departments, hospitals and state crime labs.

A Connecticut ‘vampire’s’ remains were found 30 years ago. Now DNA is giving him new life

After Barber’s grave was discovered, his remains were sent to the museum for study, and a sample from a thigh bone was sent to the DNA lab for analysis. But the technology of 30 years ago yielded scant results, the paper’s authors wrote, and identification was impossible.
But when modern tools were used – Y-chromosomal DNA profiling and surname prediction via genealogy data available on the internet – the experts said they came up with a match for the last name: Barber.

I gave my DNA away. Can I get it back?

A growing number of people are willingly handing over their DNA to corporations in return for learning about their ancestry or to get health reports.
Why are we prepared to make this trade with our most intimate of data and what are we getting in return?
And what happens if you want your data back?

Much-needed facility: At long last, Sindh gets own forensic lab

KARACHI: For the law enforcement agency, forensic science is an indispensable part of the toolkit when it comes to solving crimes. Made popular by its myriad depictions in movies and television series, most investigations nowadays would be incomplete without a forensics component.

New forensic pathology lab will be one of the biggest in the world, says Makhura

A new forensic pathology laboratory, which is currently being built in Johannesburg, will be one of the biggest facilities of its kind in the world, says Gauteng Premier David Makhura.
Makhura visited the construction site of the new Johannesburg forensic pathology laboratory in Auckland Park on Thursday.

John Dillinger’s Relatives Doubt Gangster’s Body Is in Indiana Grave, Say FBI May Not Have Killed Him

Two relatives of notorious 1930s gangster John Dillinger who plan to have his remains exhumed say they have “evidence” the body buried in an Indianapolis cemetery beneath a gravestone bearing his name may not be him and that FBI agents possibly killed someone else in 1934.

Illinois becomes 8th state to lift sex-crime prosecution time limit

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker signed legislation Friday that makes Illinois the eighth state to remove time restrictions on prosecuting crimes of sexual violence.
The Democrat signed into law a measure that lifts a 10-year statute of limitations on pressing charges in felony cases of sexual assault and sexual abuse.

Lawrence County officials say 38-year “Belle in the Well” mystery solved

The Franklin County Coroner’s office has done a facial reconstruction on the skull of a woman found dead in a cistern in Windsor Township in 1981. The woman, throught to be in her late 40s or early 50s some 31 years ago, was strangled and dumped in a well with no identification on her. Lawrence County officials are making a last-ditch effort to see if they can learn the identity of the woman local folks have named “The Belle in the Well.” She had a key to a Huntington bus station, a bus ticket and a Jerry Falwell commemorative coin when her body was found a year or so after she was killed.

FBI Opens New Digital Forensics Laboratory in Massachusetts

(TNS) — A new Federal Bureau of Investigation-sponsored digital forensics laboratory has opened in Massachusetts, officials announced this week.
The New England Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory (NERCFL) — only the 17th such lab of its kind operating in the United States — is devoted entirely to examining digital evidence, such as computers and cell phones, officials said in a statement. The facility, located in Chelsea, Mass., will also serve as a training center.

Launching the first statewide rape kit tracking system

In 2014, Idaho began a new journey in handling sexual assault kits (SAKs). I had heard the stories about backlogged SAKs coming out of Detroit, Los Angeles and Houston. Because of my role in the Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations, a national advocacy group, I knew legislation was on the horizon. Therefore, I initiated a statewide effort for an informal survey of kits at law enforcement agencies in our state.

A decades-old rape test sent him to prison. Then his high school girlfriend saw an old photograph.

The discovery horrified Detroit, and the nation: More than 11,000 rape kits were sitting untested in a police warehouse, in some cases gathering dust for decades before prosecutors stumbled upon the boxes in 2009.
One in particular had been collected in November 1997, when a 15-year-old girl came to police with a harrowing tale. After she left a store on Detroit’s east side, she said, a stranger lunged at her. He put a gun to her head and covered her head with a rag, then dragged her into an alleyway, where he raped her. A nurse performed a sexual assault examination, but the evidence went untouched for nearly two decades, until the untested rape kits became a national scandal. In 2015, prosecutors working their way through the backlog finally sent it out for testing.

‘It’s essentially junk:’ $7.5M bite mark settlement underscores national call for better forensic evidence

MILWAUKEE — He spent 23 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Now, a Milwaukee man is finally getting justice for a conviction based on flawed evidence. His long-awaited day in court came amid a national effort to put forensic science on trial.
For decades, television shows have conditioned people to believe that people can pinpoint a criminal suspect with a shoe print, tire mark, or a single strand of hair, and they can do it with absolute certainty. However, the advent of DNA technology has proven that other forensic disciplines, once thought to be bulletproof, are susceptible. Those errors have put hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent people in prison.

How much should juries rely on expert testimony?

Ten years ago, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) published a groundbreaking study on the use of forensics in criminal trials. The study found that, in the “pattern matching” fields of forensics in particular, expert witnesses had been vastly overstating the significance and certainty of their analyses. For some fields, such as bite-mark analysis, the study found no scientific research at all to support the central claims of practitioners.