Monthly Archives: March 2017

Uniting to Solve Sexual Assault Crimes

WASHINGTON, March 29, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Office of Justice Programs’ National Institute of Justice (NIJ) today published an article online describing how agencies can work together to test sexual assault kits and reduce their numbers of untested kits. The article examines a coordinated effort among NIJ, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the state of Nevada to use a variety of funding streams to test sexual assault kits and provide justice to victims.

2nd backlog of untested Detroit rape kits found

Detroit — A second backlog of more than 500 untested Detroit rape kits languished in storage for years after more than 11,000 other unprocessed evidence packages were discovered in a warehouse in 2009, prosecutors say.

Forensics: Germany considers wider use of DNA evidence in criminal cases

Behind closed doors this week, the German federal justice ministry has been discussing whether to hand police a powerful new tool involving the analysis of DNA samples. The debate is a direct consequence of the rape and murder of a medical student in Freiburg last October.

Postconviction Testing of DNA Evidence

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.
Applications Due: May 9, 2017

Face of Ordinary Poor Man from 13th Century Cambridge Reconstructed

The growth of forensic science and art has allowed a look into the faces of kings, from the famous Shakespearean villain Richard III, to the Scottish hero Robert the Bruce, to the famed boy-pharaoh Tutankhamun.
But what about the rabble? What about the commoners buried in small plots without pomp, and forgotten not long after they left this mortal coil?
A new project in Cambridge called “After the Plague” aims to understand the plight of the common man and woman in and around the time the Black Death hit England in 1348.

Idaho man who didn’t match DNA from killing is freed

BOISE, Idaho – An Idaho man who experts say was coerced into a false murder confession was freed Wednesday after spending half of his life behind bars.
A judge released Christopher Tapp after vacating his rape conviction and resentencing him to time served for the 1996 killing of Angie Dodd.
The release came after years of work by Tapp’s attorney, public defender John Thomas, and advocates, including Judges for Justice, the Idaho Innocence Project and the victim’s mother, Carol Dodge.

A Chance Reunion: Rape Survivor Meets Forensic Analyst Who Sent Her Attacker to Jail at Conference

It played out in front of a packed hotel ballroom of some 800 people at last year’s International Symposium on Human Identification (ISHI) in Minneapolis: the unexpected reunion between the survivor of a brutal serial rapist and the forensic analyst who found the DNA that led to a conviction in the case. Julie Weil had just told the terrifying story of her 2002 kidnapping and unthinkable repeated rapes in front of her two young children, emphasizing how the discovery of DNA evidence “saved her life.” At the end of panel discussion Q&A, the moderator, sounding surprised and frankly a bit unsure, read aloud a question she’d just received from the audience via the Crowd Compass app: “Did you know your analyst is here today? Her name is Lisbeth Colon.”

2,156 untested sexual assault kits processed as state works to clear backlog

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement released a report last year stating there more than 13,000 rape kits that had not been submitted or processed in the state.
The estimated cost to process these kits would be between $9 million and $32 million.

Travis County-Austin agreement to review DNA lab fallout moves forward

The Travis County Commissioners Court on Tuesday approved its part of an agreement with Austin that will pave the way for a review of the fallout from the shuttering of Austin police’s DNA lab.
The Austin City Council will vote Thursday on the agreement and on a plan to turn over the operations of a new DNA lab to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The terrifying DNA discoveries that are making science-fiction fact

Imagine a world where parents can give birth to superbabies with bones so strong they’re impervious to a surgical drill and a heart less prone to failure. A world where a child has DNA from three parents, not two. A world where it’s possible for a woman to have her favorite movie star’s child simply by collecting a few of his skin cells. Genetic technology is making it all a reality, horrifying some and heartening others.
Reproductive advances are arriving so rapidly, we’ve already entered the realm of science-fiction and are on the verge of making truly astounding leaps.

Bucks County Police Pioneering 90-Minute Rapid DNA Testing System

Tullytown police were among the first in Bucks County to use a new 90-minute rapid DNA testing system to identify a perp.
Daniel Doyle, Tullytown’s chief of police, said his department used Bensalem’s new IntegenX RapidHIT ID system to test DNA and solve a recent vehicle theft. The system used a sample from the person of interest to rapidly analyze DNA and match the crime to the alleged perpetrator.

Will new robotics, new mandate spur faster testing of Utah’s rape kits ­— or fuel a new backlog?

Utah lawmakers have approved a new mandate to test all rape kits — but not all the funding needed to cover the additional work. And while robotics will speed up a key part of testing, a lack of staff may just mean a bottleneck at a different step in the process.

New Solicitation: Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence-Inventory, Tracking, and Reporting Program

Many law enforcement agencies do not have computerized systems to track the processing of a sexual assault kit (SAK). Through this solicitation, NIJ will assist eligible states, units of local government, and tribal governments to inventory, track, and report all untested and unsubmitted SAKs and help these jurisdictions ensure accountability and transparency for the collection, processing and testing of SAKs.
The deadline for applications under this funding opportunity is April 28, 2017.

NatGeo to pay for DNA analysis in Brazos County cold case, create documentary

National Geographic Explorer has paid to analyze DNA found under the fingernails of a local woman brutally slain in 1981, helping the Brazos County Sheriff’s Office get one step closer to solving the more than 35-year-old cold case that left the county terrified and helped to forever change the real estate industry.

New $75M crime lab for Milwaukee approved

The crime lab would replace an existing 40,000-square-foot facility in south Milwaukee. The new 150,000-square-foot lab would be in either Milwaukee County or Waukesha County. It would include space for DNA testing, toxicology reports, forensic imaging and evidence processing. The new facility would also house a state Department of Justice training center, a Division of Criminal Investigation field office and a regional office for the attorney general.