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Canadian National DNA data bank

Robert William Pickton

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Defrosting cold cases

Search for hidden bodies

Derek Congram is harnessing 'geographic information software' - computer programs that can process data ranging from digital images to soil composition and road types - to come up with the most likely location for unknown graves.    (PostMedia)  REPORT:   Grave mapping in support of the search for missing persons  

 

Cold case arrest

CALGARY - Terrance Lane Wardale, 61, is accused of killing Paul Hepher, 50, in 2001.  In early 2014, police said new DNA related evidence was obtained and, on May 21 of that year, an RCMP crime lab confirmed a match to forensic evidence left at the scene.  (CBC)  MORE:   DNA played a huge role    DNA leads to charges   Cold case arrest   Closure eludes family & friends 

 

Guilty

CALGARY - Wayne Howard Bernard, 55, was found guilty for the 1995 kidnapping, sexual assault and robbery of a woman who was 51-years-old at the time and has since died.  Nearly two decades after she was kidnapped and left on the side of the road, a cold case detective reopened the case, sent some of the evidence to a lab for testing and got a match to Bernard's DNA. (CBC) 

 

GPS darts

TORONTO - High-speed car chases could soon be a thing of the past for Ontario's provincial police.  The OPP says it has launched a pilot project that will test the use of laser-aimed darts armed with GPS technology to help track fleeing cars. (CP) 

 

DNA phenotyping

SUDBURY - The slaying of Renee Sweeney has stymied police in Sudbury, Ont., since 1998, when she was repeatedly stabbed behind the counter of the adults-only video store where she worked.  Evidence in the case included multiple DNA samples, fingerprints and 3 witnesses, but the killer has not been identified to this day.  Now, Sudbury police have turned to DNA phenotyping to solve the case.  (PostMedia) 

 

DNA evidence

BREMBATE DI SOPRA - Massimo Bossetti, 46, was found guilty of killing Yara Gambirasio, 13, in Nov 2010 and dumping her body in a field where she was found 3 months later.   The conclusion of the year-long trial follows the testing of 18,000 DNA samples in the wake of Gambirasio's body being found.    (Guardian UK) MORE:   Murder of Yara Gambirasio

 

DNA mugshot

SAN DIEGO - Researchers from Human Longevity, Inc. (HLI) have published a study in which individual faces and other physical traits were predicted using whole genome sequencing data and machine learning.   (HLI)  PREVIOUS:   DNA used to create 3D image   Parabon snapshot

  

Flaws in gene testing

The first report from a big public-private project to improve genetic testing reveals it is not as rock solid as many people believe, with flaws that result in some people wrongly advised to worry about a disease risk and others wrongly told they can relax.   (AP)

 

Fingerprint from photo

BERLIN - A member of the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) hacker network claims to have cloned a thumbprint of a German politician by using commercial software and images taken at a news conference. Fingerprint biometrics are already considered insecure, experts say.   (BBC) 

 

Drug convictions tossed

BOSTON - Prosecutors moved to throw out more than 21,000 drug convictions, 5 years after a chemist at the state drug lab was caught tampering with evidence and falsifying tests.  The state's highest court had ordered district attorneys in 7 counties to produce lists indicating how many of approximately 24,000 cases involving Annie Dookhan they would be unable or unwilling to prosecute if the defendants were granted new trials.  (AP)    MORE:   Annie Dookhan   Rogue crime lab scientist

 

2 genes linked

A genetic analysis of almost 900 offenders in Finland has revealed two genes associated with violent crime.   The authors of the study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, said at least 4-10% of all violent crime in Finland could be attributed to individuals with these genotypes.  But they stressed the genes could not be used to screen criminals.  (BBC)

 

Gut microbes

Known as gut flora or the gut microbiome, these microorganisms help your body digest certain foods, aid the immune system, and maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract, all in exchange for a constant food supply.   (Popular Science) 

 

20 years

TORONTO - Alexander Winston Sylvester, 58, pleaded guilty last year to a 1981 rape of a 14-year-old girl and a 1993 attack, unlawful confinement and robbery of a 53-year-old sunbather at her east-end home.  (SunMedia)    PREVIOUS:   Stored DNA credited with cracking case  

 

Accomplice identified

CHARLOTTETOWN - Police have gathered evidence that a second man helped Byron Carr's killer clean up evidence the night after the 1988 murder.  Carr was strangled to death in his home in Charlottetown in the early morning hours of Nov. 11, 1988.   (CBC)  PREVIOUS:   Cold case - Byron Carr 

 

Ottawa plans to collect DNA

OTTAWA - The federal government is considering a move to collect DNA samples from suspects upon arrest for certain crimes.  (Globe & Mail) 

     

Behind the scenes

TORONTO - Far away from flashing lights and yellow police tape, a cluster of alphabetized buildings in the shadow of Canada’s busiest highway is home to the Toronto Police Service Forensic identification Service, or FIS, where officers in lab coats help solve mysteries.  (Globe & Mail)    

 

Kim Rossmo is a former Vancouver policeman who developed a computer program that links geographic information and criminals, is the 2005 recipient of the Sterling Prize in Support of Controversy.  Geoprofiling   Georgraphic profiling 

20 years later

VANCOUVER - Police in New Westminster, using 20-year-old DNA evidence, have now charged James Gray, 48, with a violent assault on Dorothy Darnel on Oct 4, 1996.  Darnel died in Langley on Dec 15, 2015.   (Vancouver Sun)  MORE:   Cold case arrest 

 

DNA solves 1976 murder

HERMOSA BEACH - On the morning of Jan. 30, 1976, shortly after dropping her young son off at school, Karen Klaas returned to her home in Hermosa Beach, Calif.  Officials said they identified Klaas' killer as Kenneth Troyer. (Washington Post)    MORE:   Murder solved    Medley grateful

 

UN warning

UNITED NATIONS - Warning that rapid advances in genetics make 'designer babies' an increasing possibility, a UN panel called for a moratorium on 'editing' the human genome, pending wider public debate lest changes in DNA be transmitted to future generations or foster eugenics.  (UN)

 

Unidentified dead

TORONTO - According to a database of missing people and unidentified remains compiled by the OPP, authorities are still trying to identify at least 371 John and Jane Does who were found dead between 1964 and 2015.  50 of those people were found in Toronto; all but 2 were male.  But how does one get that classification? And what happens after that?  (Toronto Star) 

 

Cadaver dogs

Not only can these dogs detect the scent of human remains under 30 metres of water, some can also detect traces as small as a shard of bone or drop of blood. They can also tell the difference between, say, a dead raccoon and a dead hiker.  And yet scientists still aren't 100% sure how they do it and the training community is still figuring out how to train them most effectively.  (CBC)

  

Planting false memories easy

The new study proves for the first time what psychologists have long suspected: that manipulative questioning tactics used by police can induce false memories - and produce false confessions.   (Toronto Star)    REPORT:   Constructing false memories  

 

FBI overstated

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.  (Washington Post)   MORE:   Unvalidated or improper forensic science   CSI is a lie     

  

Genetic discrimination

OTTAWA - Over the objection of their own government, dozens of Liberal backbenchers voted in favour of a bill banning genetic discrimination.  Bill S-201 made it a crime for, among other things, insurance companies to demand potential customers provide a DNA test in order to get a policy.  Protection from discrimination because of an individual's genetic makeup will now be written into the Canadian Labour Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act.  (National Post)   PREVIOUS:    Genetic discrimination is a reality

 

Blood detectives

LONDON - A camera that can detect and date blood traces is set to revolutionize the science of crime scene investigation.    (Independent UK) 

 

Forensic kinesiology

How people fall, how they land and what injuries they incur is the stuff of a field of expertise encompassed by kinesiology, the study of human movement.  (Globe & Mail)

 

DNA technology improves

TORONTO -  Brampton resident Shane Garry, 45, was identified using DNA evidence collected back in 1991 when the alleged incident occurred.  Police said although the DNA evidence was available, the technology used to pinpoint the suspect was not.  (CBC)   MORE:   Cold case arrest

 

How the lie detector came to be

The science behind the lie detector test has been disputed since its creation 90 years ago, so is there any reliable way to tell if someone is lying.  (BBC) 

 

Palm print database

OTTAWA - Police have high hopes a new forensic database could help crack some cold cases.  The RCMP will expand its fingerprint database to include palm prints. (CBC)   PREVIOUS:   RCMP Forensic Science and Identification Services   Palm print 

 

Forensic 'science' often isn't

WASHINGTON - A 2009 report by the NAS (National Academy of Sciences) found that, in contrast to DNA matching, "for many other forensic disciplines - such as fingerprint and toolmark analysis - no studies have been conducted" to determine how many shoes, teeth, fibers, sand grains, or anything else "share the same or similar features" and so might be linked to the wrong person.  As a result, invalid forensic science "may have" helped convict innocent people. (Newsweek)

 

Fingerprinting plan could cost

OTTAWA - Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is putting pressure on provincial and municipal police forces to buy electronic fingerprint-scanning equipment in order to speed up mandatory security checks for those wanting to volunteer or work with the "vulnerable" sector.    (SunMedia)  PREVIOUS:  Fingerprint technology speeds up 

 

Being a coroner in the North

IQALUIT - Nowhere in Canada is spotting a coroner arguably less liked and more likely than Nunavut, with its higher rates of murder, suicide and sudden infant death than any other province or territory.   (Globe & Mail)   MORE:    Nunavut leads nation in avoidable deaths     

Substantial gap

OTTAWA - Reports on more than 250 unidentified human remains are not in an RCMP-managed database created to help link the missing with the anonymous dead - a substantial gap the federal police agency refuses to acknowledge.  The Globe found there were 697 unidentified remains in Canada when the data were collected, but the RCMP says its national database had files on only 431 nameless deceased as of Feb 24.   (Globe & Mail)  

The anonymous dead

Efforts to name the dead

NCMPUR

Ignoring recommendations

Analysis of implementation   .pdf

Focus on domestic violence

Emotion and suspicion    

ID centre shows promise

canadasmissing.ca

National Centre for Missing persons and Unidentified Remains  

FBI facial recognition database

WASHINGTON - Approximately half of adult Americans' photographs are stored in facial recognition databases that can be accessed by the FBI, without their knowledge or consent.  About 80% of photos in the FBI's network are non-criminal entries, including pictures from driver's licenses and passports. The algorithms used to identify matches are inaccurate about 15% of the time, and are more likely to misidentify black people than white people.  These are just some of the damning facts presented at last week's House oversight committee hearing.  (Guardian UK)  

FBI's next generation database

Next Generation Identification (NGI)

IAFIS

Facial recognition software

NeoFace Reveal    

Facial recognition system

   

Twins' DNA

MARSEILLE - French police investigating a series of rapes in the southern city of Marseille are confounded after tracing DNA evidence to a set of twins but not knowing which one may be to blame.  (AFP)   MORE:   DNA hinders investigation

Bullets decoded

TORONTO - Advanced technology is helping Toronto police learn more about the history of the guns they seize from city streets, but wary criminals are paying attention and taking steps to thwart that process.  (CBC)   MORE:   Bullet proof 

Clues

On March 3, a conservation officer discovered a decomposed body on the shores of the Humber River.  Officers could not determine the sex or how long the body had been there.  (Toronto Star)

Stored DNA cracks case

TORONTO - The hunt by GTA police for killer and rapist Alexander Winston Sylvester began 30 years ago, at a time when there were no computerized police data banks or DNA testing.   (Toronto Star)

Regulators to set new standards

TORONTO - Rocked by numerous scandals involving botched breast cancer and other diagnostic tests in a number of provinces, professional medical groups are taking steps to standardize pathology and laboratory services across the country.  (Toronto Star)  

Man tied to serial killings

LOS ANGELES - DNA leads detectives to John Thomas Jr., 72. He is held in two slayings, but police suspect he may have killed up to 30 elderly Westside and Claremont women a decade apart.  (LA Times)   MORE:   Unraveling the life  

Cat DNA used

LEICESTER - University of Leicester scientists have used cat DNA to help convict a killer.  (This is Leicestershire)   MORE:   Cat DNA snares killer

Dog poop samples demanded

VANCOUVER - The landlord of the building in the 7400-block of 14th Ave issued the letters to about 30 dog owners.   (CBC)  $1M DNA analyzer put to use

1 in 1300 crimes solved with DNA

LONDON - Fewer than 1 in every 1,300 crimes is solved by matching a personal profile on the national DNA database, a report by MPs suggests. (Telegraph UK)    REPORT:  National DNA database

The world of science journals

The editor-in-chief of an academic journal has resigned after his publication accepted a hoax article.  The Open Information Science Journal failed to spot that the computer-generated paper was a fake.  (Guardian UK) 

Unique trail of germs

People leave more than fingerprints when they touch stuff - they also deposit a tell-tale trail of germs that could help investigators solve crimes.   (Reuters)

Crime solved by leech

CANBERRA - A blood-swollen leech found at a crime scene 8 years ago has led Australian police to an armed robber in an unusual twist of DNA technology, officials say.   (AP)

DNA evidence can be faked

Long considered the most solid proof in any criminal court case, the biological goods can easily be planted at a crime scene, according to Dan Frumkin, lead author of a paper published in the online journal Forensic Science International: Genetics. "You can just engineer a crime scene," Frumkin contends. "Any biology undergraduate could perform this."  (INN)

Danger of DNA: it isn't perfect

In 2004, a New Jersey prosecutor announced that DNA had solved the mystery of who killed Jane Durrua, an eighth-grader who was raped, beaten and strangled 36 years earlier. "Through DNA, we put a face to the killer of Jane Durrua, and that face belongs to Jerry Bellamy," prosecutor John Kaye said.  The killer, however, turned out to be someone else.   (Los Angeles Times)

Labs to close

OTTAWA - The Mounties are closing 3 of their 6 forensic labs and consolidating services in the remaining 3.   (CP)

Hair sample database

Your hair says a lot about your style, but it can also say a lot about what you've been eating and where you live.    MORE:  Hair database

Ottawa urged to establish watchdog

OTTAWA - With a US report throwing doubt on the validity of nearly every type of forensic evidence used in courtrooms, an expert on wrongful convictions is urging Canada to consider setting up a watchdog agency to regulate what is currently touted as "science."  (Toronto Star)  

DNA link

MILWAUKEE - A person known only by DNA has killed 5 prostitutes over two decades in Milwaukee police said.  More than 20 DNA samples from other unsolved homicides of prostitutes are being re-sent to the state crime laboratory to check for possible links to the killer. (AP)

Trail of clues

SEATTLE - The improbable linking of an unsolved Auburn burglary, unidentified DNA from two crime scenes, and the work of cops and prosecutors in two counties led to the arrest Friday of the man authorities say is responsible for the attack that left one woman dead and her partner wounded in South Park last Sunday.  

DNA links man to 1984 murder

TORONTO - Twenty four years ago Elizabeth Hoffschneider was raped and strangled in her Southern California apartment.  Ontario Superior Court Justice Todd Archibald found there was "more than ample evidence" to order Gerald Su Go, 52, committed for extradition.  (Toronto Star)  MORE:  3 hairs lead to arrest

DNA blunder

STUTTGART - German investigators' search for a mysterious suspected killer has ended with an embarrassing discovery: identical DNA traces common to dozens of crime scenes stemmed from contaminated cotton swabs.. (AP)

Family murdered

Writing in the journal PNAS, researchers say the broken bones of these stone age people show they were killed in a struggle.  Comparisons of DNA from one grave confirm it contained a mother, father, and their two children.   (BBC)

Accomplice identified

CHARLOTTETOWN - Police have gathered evidence that a second man helped Byron Carr's killer clean up evidence the night after the 1988 murder.  Carr was strangled to death in his Lapthorne Ave home in Charlottetown in the early morning hours of Nov. 11, 1988.   (CBC)

Shaking up forensic science

Courts believe DNA evidence because it is scientifically proven. But in criminology different rules apply. With the number of DNA acquittals rising, many defense attorneys and prosecutors say it's time to take a hard look at current forensic techniques.  (NBC)

4,000 more 'cold cases' reviewed

LONDON - Forensic scientists are to begin reviewing around 4,000 more unsolved sex crimes, the government has said.    (BBC)

 

Forensic lab errors in hundred of crime cases

Police to review DNA criminal cases

Bees join hunt for serial killers

LONDON - The way bumblebees search for food could help detectives hunt down serial killers, scientists believe.    (BBC)

Police reopen 7,000 cases

CANBERRA - Australian police will re-examine 7,000 crimes solved through DNA evidence after a mistake forced detectives to free a suspect wrongly accused of murder.   (Reuters)  PREVIOUS:   Victoria Police Forensic Services Centre

Man serving time for killing

TACOMA - Pierce County prosecutors say new DNA testing of blood found on Cecil Davis' boots back in 1997 revealed it was almost certainly from Jane Hungerford-Trapp, who was found dead on the landing of a Hilltop-area apartment-complex stairway April 14, 1996.  (Post-Intelligencer)

Family DNA helps cops

In 1988, 20-year-old Lynette White was fatally stabbed in South Wales.   The murder went unsolved for 15 years, until a fresh DNA sweep of her apartment in 2000 turned up spots of blood on a skirting board that had been missed the first time around.    (Fox)

DNA solves Vimy mystery

OTTAWA - Call it CSI Vimy.  In 2003, construction workers in northern France uncovered the remains of two Canadian soldiers from World War I, killed in a trench assault soon after the famed victory at Vimy Ridge.  (Toronto Star)

Bead of sweat

MANCHESTER, UK - A serial burglar was jailed for four years yesterday after being trapped by a bead of sweat he left at the scene of one of his crimes.   (Telegraph) 

Found 2007-08-20  Jedidiah Island

Human feet

BOTANICAL BEACH - The BC Coroners Service confirms that a second foot found washed up near Port Renfrew on the west coast of Vancouver Island is human and matches another foot that was found several days earlier in the same area.    (CP)

Feet belonged to the same person

Foot found

Detached naturally

Salish Sea human foot discoveries

Human foot found  

Foot found

2 feet identified

Feet identified

No trauma on foot

Foot found May 22, 2008

Foot found

Presqu'ile Provincial Park

Ex-cop suspects foul play

Foot found in Seattle

Foot found   

Yet another foot washes ashore 

Endless foot theories

Map: Found feet

Foot found on beach

Another foot washes up

Severed foot

Clallam to meet with Canadian cops

DNA links foot to missing man

DNA reveal clues to BC foot case  

CSI students get training house

The work is more laborious, the clothes less glamorous and it takes a much larger team to solve a crime.  Those are the main differences between Hollywood's version of forensic science as portrayed in the hit television series CSI and real life, according to those studying the discipline at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT). (Toronto Star)

 

AB: Help us identify

BC: Unidentified cases

SK: Found human remains

OPP website seeks help to identify cold cases

 

Inmate charged in 1990 stabbing

SEATTLE - King County prosecutors brought a first-degree murder charge yesterday against a prison inmate whom they accuse of the brutal stabbing death of Betty Minnis in her home 14 years ago.  DNA evidence from the Minnis case matched DNA analysis on file in a state databank as belonging to Trenino Rollins.  (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Killer gets life for 1968 slaying

SEATTLE - With the help of DNA technology and a newly installed team dedicated to unraveling unsolved "cold cases," police charged John Dwight Canaday, who has been serving a life sentence for killing two other women, with the slaying of Sandra Bowman, a 16-year-old pregnant newlywed.   (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)   PREVIOUS:  Suspect named in 1968 killing

DNA links inmate to deaths

LOS ANGELES - 2 Los Angeles cold case homicide detectives used DNA test results to link an imprisoned rapist to the deaths of 12 women and an unborn girl between 1987 and 1998.  The suspect in the killings, 37-year-old Chester Dwayne Turner, was convicted of rape in March 2002 and is serving an 8-year term at California State Prison.   (CNN)  

DNA evidence in M25 rape trial

MAIDSTONE, UK - A railway worker went on a "campaign of rape" against women and girls aged between 10 and 52, a jury at Maidstone crown court heard yesterday. "I'm not going to hurt you physically. This will just leave you emotionally scarred," he allegedly told one victim. (The Guardian)

DNA tests clear 2 men convicted of rape

RICHMOND, Va. - Gov. Mark R. Warner on Thursday pardoned two men wrongly convicted of sexual assault and recently cleared after a review of DNA evidence saved years ago by a meticulous forensic scientist.  (AP)

Killer caught by relative's DNA

SURREY, UK - A relative of Craig Harman, jailed for killing lorry driver Michael Little, inadvertently led police to their man after officers used pioneering DNA techniques.  (BBC)   RELATED:   Global DNA test narrows hunt for serial rapist    Serial rapist's DNA is traced to West Indies

Jail term for fake DNA tests boss

BOURNEMOUTH, UK - Simon Mullane, 39, charged up to £600 for tests as managing director of an internet firm based in Poole, Dorset.  But Bournemouth Crown Court heard that Mullane was inundated with work and made up results for some 150 swabs which should have been sent abroad.   (BBC) 

DNA helps police close in on killer

SEATTLE - Police detectives are on the verge of solving the killing of 16-year-old Sandra Bowman in 1968 that sickened the community and have found their suspect sitting in a state prison cell, where he is serving time for killing two other women.   (Seattle PI)    

Solve crimes quickly with DNA

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