K&R News


2017-08-19 | DNA lab reduces testing for missing people amid funding woes
Karen Stipes always believed her missing mother was “Mountain Jane Doe,” buried unidentified in a paupers’ cemetery deep in the woods outside Harlan, Kentucky. But without proof, it took nearly half a century and the development of DNA technology for forensic scientists at the University of North Texas to confirm her intuition. But now the same Texas lab that handled Blair-Adams’ DNA has had to stop testing samples like hers that come from outside the state due to a lack of funding, meaning family members of missing and unidentified people are waiting longer for their cases to be solved.

2017-08-08 | 9/11 Victim's Remains Identified Nearly 16 Years Later
Remains of 1,641 victims have been identified so far. That means 40 percent of those who died have yet to have any remains identified. New, more sensitive DNA technology was deployed earlier this year and helped make the latest identification after earlier testing produced no results, the medical examiner's office said. As DNA testing advanced, so has the multimillion-dollar effort to connect more than 21,900 bits of remains to individual victims. Few full bodies were recovered after the giant towers burned and collapsed, and the effects of heat, bacteria and chemicals such as jet fuel made it all the more difficult to analyze the remains.

2017-07-05 | FBI, Groups at Odds Over Efforts to ID Immigrant Remains
Like many family members of missing immigrants, Arriaza, 45, has submitted DNA so it can be compared to remains found along the Texas-Mexico border. But while Arriaza, who lives in Philadelphia, submitted DNA to U.S. authorities, many others choose a different path that complicates potential identification of their loved ones’ remains. Many missing immigrant family members living outside the U.S., or who live in the country but fear going to authorities due to concerns about their immigration status, instead give their DNA to non-governmental organizations working on this issue.

2017-06-26 | California Father Buries Wrong Man After Coroner's Mistake
The mix-up began on May 6 when a man was found dead behind a Verizon store in Fountain Valley. Kerrigan, 82, of Wildomar, said he called the coroner's office and was told the body was that of his son, Frank M. Kerrigan, 57, who is mentally ill and had been living on the street. When he asked whether he should identify the body, a woman said — apparently incorrectly — that identification had been made through fingerprints. "When somebody tells me my son is dead, when they have fingerprints, I believe them," Kerrigan said. "If he wasn't identified by fingerprints I would been there in heartbeat."

2017-05-19 | University of Indianapolis Forensics Crew Returns to Texas for Migrant Identification Initiative
For the past four years, a forensics team from the University of Indianapolis has traveled to Texas to exhume and conduct forensic analyses on the remains of migrants who died making the treacherous journey into the United States. The group not only carefully digs and recovers the remains from unmarked gravesites, but it also works with Texas State University on identification of the bodies. The initiative highlights a humanitarian crisis as bodies continue to be found in small counties with no resources to identify them, said Krista Latham, an associate professor of biology who leads the group.

2017-05-19 | UNT DNA Program Funding Loss ‘Incredibly Crippling,’ Say Investigators
In previous years, Krebs would send the samples to the national clearinghouse at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, which accepts out-of-state samples to help identify the nameless dead. But this year she can’t. A crucial $1 million in funding from the federal National Institute of Justice was removed earlier this year, and state and local agencies can no longer get the free testing they have come to expect. So detectives like Krebs across the nation are forced to make a decision: either don’t do the testing—or store the crucial evidence until they may be able to continue their investigations. “What else do you do?” said Krebs recently, talking about the box of DNA samples from unknown decedents on her desk.

2017-02-13 | Cyprus Tests to See if Remains of Missing Were Misidentified
A committee uncovering the fate of hundreds of missing Greek and Turkish Cypriots said Saturday it's examining whether past DNA tests on unearthed remains were incorrect, resulting in individuals being misidentified.

2017-02-09 | Colorado Supreme Court decisions could make it tougher for cops to testify
The court ruled that trial witnesses, including police officers, who have interpreted blood evidence in thousands of criminal cases can’t testify as “lay” witnesses and must first be qualified as experts before they can testify. That’s a much higher standard than officers currently face.

2017-01-23 | Mexico Identifies 56 Sets of Human Remains in Mass Grave
On Sunday, the prosecutors' office said 24 sets of remains were identified through DNA testing. Some of the 24 remains whose DNA matched existing profiles belonged to people who had been reported missing since 2010. The DNA profiles of 32 other people were found in the bones, but they couldn't immediately be matched to anyone.

2017-01-03 | UIndy team heads off on forensic mission to identify migrant bodies found in Texas
Her destination: a town near the Texas border. "This is essentially a humanitarian crisis. We consider it a mass disaster situation,” says Latham. She is a forensic anthropologist from the University of Indianapolis. She will be part of the painstaking project in exhuming the remains of more than one-hundred migrants that were fleeing violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador over the last ten years.

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