Monthly Archives: November 2016

New Austin DNA lab chief will tackle 4,000 cases with contamination concerns

blood-samplesAUSTIN (KXAN) — There is a new person in charge of the Austin police DNA lab with a lot on his plate after widespread issues were reported with thousands of cases.
Scott Milne is now the Chief Forensics Officer. The department’s lab shut down over the summer after a investigation revealed thousands of cases that used flawed science calculating odds in DNA results.

Yearlong wait for DNA testing results frustrates Utah judge, who threatens to put a crime lab employee in jail

backlog sexual assault kitsNot unique • Corporon said Wednesday that her client’s case is hardly unique. He is not the first defendant to sit in jail for months as trial dates are canceled because of a lack of DNA results — and she is not the only defense attorney who has encountered this.
“Over and over again, in cases in which sex crimes are alleged, the critical DNA evidence is not available for many months, or a year or more,” she wrote in an email to The Salt Lake Tribune. “This impacts everyone in the system.”

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84 Years Ago Today, the FBI’s Crime Lab Opened in DC

early-fbi-crime-labFrom fingerprinting and ballistics to handwriting analysis and moulage, the FBI’s Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory is known for assisting the bureau’s agents in solving high-profile cases.
Established by original FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, the Criminology Laboratory, as it was known then, was first housed in a single room of the Old Southern Railway Building at 13th St. and Pennsylvania Ave., Northwest. The lab’s work started in September 1932, but opened officially on November 24 of that year. Its first year of work included 963 examinations, including those that led to the capture of Bruno Richard Hauptmann for the kidnapping of the infant son of the aviator Charles Lindbergh.

Research and Development in Forensic Science for Criminal Justice Purposes

Justice DeptNIJ is seeking proposals for basic or applied research and development projects. An NIJ forensic science research and development grant supports a discrete, specified, circumscribed project that will:
1. Increase the body of knowledge to guide and inform forensic science policy and practice.
2. Lead to the production of useful material(s), device(s), system(s), or method(s) that have the potential for forensic application.
DEADLINE IS FEBRUARY 28, 2017

Update law so labs can use Rapid DNA to solve crimes faster

Gray DNABy Jay Henry-
Over the past 26 years of my career as a forensic scientist, I have seen science evolve and advance at a lightning speed. The pace at which these new technologies are entering the marketplace and the unprecedented help they provide law enforcement has been instrumental in serving the justice system. However, in some instances, the science has outpaced laws that determine which tools should or should not be used, leaving good technology idle. Rapid DNA is one of those technologies.

European diseases left their mark on First Nations’ DNA

tsimshian-peopleEpidemics from Europe that killed thousands of indigenous Canadians in the nineteenth century have left their signatures in the genomes of the people living there today, researchers say.
The Tsimshian people, who live in coastal British Columbia and Alaska and are among Canada’s First Nations, suffered a severe population crash around the nineteenth century, as European colonizers brought diseases including smallpox to communities that had not acquired resistance.

Hair Analysis Could Become An Important Alternative To Dna Testing

DNA hair analysisYet hair can be incredibly useful. “Hair is always left behind, so it’s an abundant source of material for identifying people,” says Daniel Fairbanks, a hair expert at Utah Valley University and also one of the paper’s co-authors.
Additional validation needs to be done before the new method makes its way into working forensic labs and courtrooms. Researchers need to test with more people and include more ethnic groups in the study population. The amount of hair required (currently a thimbleful) needs to be reduced to a single strand. And rigorous testing of the chosen protein markers needs to be done to make sure they’re reliable. hair can be incredibly useful. “Hair is always left behind, so it’s an abundant source of material for identifying people,” says Daniel Fairbanks, a hair expert at Utah Valley University and also one of the paper’s co-authors.

Parabon® Awarded Government Contract to Develop Next-Generation Forensic DNA Analysis Platform

DNA and facial characteristicsRESTON, Va., Nov. 16, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Parabon® NanoLabs (Parabon) announced today the award of a two-year Department of Defense (DoD) contract to develop a novel software platform for forensic analysis of DNA evidence. Many analysis products support traditional DNA typing, however, emerging methods, such as high-throughput DNA sequencing (HTS) and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping, require a collection of bioinformatics capabilities not supported by existing forensic applications. The platform created under this contract, referred to as “Keystone,” will provide an open architecture that allows bioinformatic data from any forensic science instrument to be analyzed via software plugins that integrate existing analytical tools or implement novel analytical methods. Parabon will develop plugins supporting common workflows, but Keystone’s architecture will also enable third parties to develop plugins for particular instruments or analysis.

Residue on cell phones used to create ‘portraits’ of users

images-from-cell-phones(CNN)Everything we possess contains chemical traces of us. Researchers suggest this simple truth can be put to use in the forensic sciences in a new “proof-of-concept” study funded by the National Institute of Justice and published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences.(CNN)Everything we possess contains chemical traces of us. Researchers suggest this simple truth can be put to use in the forensic sciences in a new “proof-of-concept” study funded by the National Institute of Justice and published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences.

The Douglas County Crime Lab is now internationally-recognized for its work

Nebraska- The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has announced its crime lab has received dual accreditation by the National Accreditation Board.
DNA LabThe Board is a world-wide forensic accrediting body that represents more than 2,000 crime labs. Douglas County’s crime lab is only the 6th crime lab in the world to receive accreditation for both the lab itself and for its crime scene investigators/latent prints work.

Wet vacuum DNA collection used in cold case murder at Torrey Pines

new blue helixSAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – Cold case detectives have the results back from new DNA testing in the 1978 murder of a teenage girl on Torrey Pines beach.
Even though the murder has remained unsolved for 38 years, San Diego police detectives were hoping for a break using wet vacuum DNA collection technology.

Janet Reno Was Unafraid of Science That Could Exonerate the Innocent

janet-renoThat first report she commissioned on DNA exonerations looked fearlessly at the errors not just of police officers, but of a whole constellation of players in justice.

Needle-in-a-haystack hunt for evidence in old Virginia murder case required endurance, luck

crawford-and-collection-roomSometimes old evidence sought for DNA testing is found where it is least expected, where it shouldn’t be or even after it has been said to be destroyed, said Deirdre Enright, director of investigation for the University of Virginia School of Law Innocence Project Clinic, which has been involved in Brown’s case for five years.

Hero Lost at Pearl Harbor Comes Home After Years in an Unknown Grave

Thanks to the tireless efforts of a comrade and the military’s use of DNA, family members of a sailor who died nearly 75 years ago are getting closure.