Prime Time Crime



Sex Crimes

Canadian National DNA data bank

Robert William Pickton


Defrosting cold cases

Urinating in plant pot

NEWCASTLE - Eric McKenna's brutal assaults on 2 lone women who had been walking home in the 1980s remained unsolved until a breakthrough by cold case detectives.  McKenna, was involved in a row with a neighbour in 2016.  After urinating in her garden plant pot, he was cautioned, and the 60-year-old's DNA was taken.  Police then linked the sample to the rapes carried out in 1983 and 1988.  (Daily Mail)


DNA analysis

YELLOWKNIFE - The breakthrough made by police in the Northwest Territories in the 28-year-old case of a missing Inuit woman in Yellowknife, was made with the help of a (ICMP) forensics lab in Bosnia and Herzegovina.   (CBC) 


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 



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 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)


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)  


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)


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)  

Cracks in the code 

The more genomes researchers study, the more evidence mounts that using DNA to predict health risks is anything but precise.  (Globe & Mail)  


DNA image

CALGARY - Police continue to investigate the death of an infant whose body was found in the Bowness area on Christmas Eve and have released an image of the child's mother that was generated using DNA phenotyping.   (CBC)    Parabon Nanolabs


Forensic data manipulation

MANCHESTER - Policing chiefs say confidence in the criminal justice system has been rocked by the alleged manipulation of data at a forensics laboratory that has led to the review of 10,000 cases across England and Wales.   (Guardian UK)  MORE:   Lab test tampering    National operation to retest    Randox


Homicide tracking algorithm

An algorithm that's been developed by the Murder Accountability Project has the potential to solve many unsolved murders in the US and to identify serial killers.  (London Free Press)


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:   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

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


Ignoring recommendations

Analysis of implementation   .pdf

Focus on domestic violence

Emotion and suspicion    

ID centre shows promise

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 House oversight committee hearing.  (Guardian UK)


Algorithm that dupes facial recognition

'adversarial attack' (.pdf)

FBI's next generation database

Next Generation Identification (NGI)


Facial recognition software

NeoFace Reveal    

Facial recognition system

Other uses for facial recognition


Heredity or hoax?

TORONTO - When Louis Cote became suspicious of a Toronto-based laboratory (Viaguard Accu-Metrics) that tests people's DNA to determine their ancestry, he decided to try an experiment by submitting a sample from his girlfriend's dog for analysis.  According to the results, Cote shares more than a friendship with Snoopy the chihuahua; they share the exact same Indigenous ancestry. (CBC)


Warning of risks



Ethical questions raised over DNA tests


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

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) 

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) 

Blood detectives

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

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

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)     

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


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)

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 

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)

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     

Bullets decoded

TORONTO - Advanced technology is helping 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 proofy.  Geoprofiling   Georgraphic profiling  

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) 

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  

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  

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) 

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) 

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)

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)

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)

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)

Police reopen 7,000 cases

CANBERRA - Australia  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

Found 2007-08-20  Jedidiah Island

Human foot found

GABRIOLA ISLAND - Another human foot has washed up on BC's coast, this time on Gabriola Island.  (CTV)

Another foot found

Foot identified

Foot found

Human feet

Feet belonged to the same person

Foot found

Detached naturally

Salish Sea human foot discoveries

Foot found

2 feet identified

Foot found May 22, 2008

Human foot washes up in ON

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

Another foot washes up

Severed foot

DNA links foot to missing man

DNA reveal clues to BC foot case  

Feet identified

No trauma on foot

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

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   

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

Prime Time Crime

Recent Headlines