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Crime Scene Investigator Preps for Murder Probes in Space
Future Space Criminals
Will Face 'Astroforensics'

Future Space Criminals Will Face 'Astroforensics'

Crime scene investigator Zack Kowalske has been testing blood spatters in zero gravity

(Newser) - The emerging field of astroforensics will be called upon whenever humanity faces its first murder in space. Until that time, Zack Kowalske, a crime scene investigator in Atlanta, says "broadening the understanding of all forensic sciences in nonterrestrial environments is critical as we expand into a space-faring species."...

Pair Wrongfully Convicted of Murder to Get $25M Payout

Connecticut settlement involves forensic expert Henry Lee, accused of fabricating evidence

(Newser) - Connecticut's attorney general has agreed to a $25.2 million settlement with two men who spent decades in prison for murder, based partly on evidence presented by famed forensic scientist Henry Lee that a judge later found was fabricated. Ralph "Ricky" Birch and Shawn Henning were convicted in...

Potentially Shaky Investigative Tool: Analysis of 911 Calls

Prosecutors have been using callers' words against them, but ProPublica raises doubts

(Newser) - Bite marks, blood splatters, polygraphs, hair follicles … these are some of the forensic tools used as evidence by police and prosecutors to convince juries of defendants’ guilt. The scientific validity of these tools has also been questioned, as ProPublica reports in a recent investigation focused on yet another, little-known...

Crime Labs Often Reach Dubious Conclusions
Forensic Scientists Often
Produce Dubious Results

Forensic Scientists Often Produce Dubious Results

For decades, flawed and fabricated evidence has been used to convict innocent people

(Newser) - G. Michele Yezzo worked for 32 years as a forensic scientist in Ohio. She resigned in 2009, after being reprimanded by her supervisor for "interpretational and observational errors" that "could lead to a substantial miscarriage of justice." By then, Yezzo had amassed a 449-page personnel file loaded...

'Extermination Site' Illustrates the Scale of Mexico's Missing

Progress is slow, and justice is nowhere in sight for families of the nearly 100K who have disappeared

(Newser) - The human foot—burned, but with some fabric still attached—was the tipoff for investigators. Until recently, this squat, ruined house in Nuevo Laredo was a place where the remains of some of Mexico’s missing multitudes were torn apart and incinerated. At the site—to which AP was given...

Murderer Phil Spector's Defense Argument Debunked
Researchers Debunk
Phil Spector's Defense

Researchers Debunk Phil Spector's Defense

His lawyers claimed lack of blood spatter proved his innocence, but new studies cast doubt

(Newser) - Crime shows make blood-spatter analysis look foolproof, as easy as seeing flecks of blood and knowing from which direction an assailant fired a gun. But the reality is far trickier , as new research inspired by the 2003 murder of actor Lana Clarkson shows. The late music producer Phil Spector was...

During Home Remodel, a Grisly Find in the Wall

Fetal remains will undergo forensic tests

(Newser) - Fetal remains have been discovered in the wall of a home in South Carolina and are thought to have been there "for a long period of time." That's according to Spartanburg County coroner Rusty Clevenger, who was notified of the discovery at a home in Pacolet during...

Forensic Expert Suggests Epstein Was Murdered
Forensic Expert
Suggests Epstein
Was Murdered

Forensic Expert Suggests Epstein Was Murdered

Neck fractures imply homicidal strangulation: Dr. Michael Baden

(Newser) - A forensic pathologist hired by Jeffrey Epstein's brother says the financier may have been murdered inside his Manhattan prison cell on Aug. 10. "There's evidence here of homicide that should be investigated," Dr. Michael Baden, a former New York City medical examiner who witnessed the autopsy,...

Murder of JonBenet Expert Tied to 2 More Killings

2 Phoenix-area paralegals were shot a day after forensic psychiatrist Dr. Steven Pitt

(Newser) - The murder of a forensic psychologist who weighed in on the JonBenet Ramsey and Columbine cases is related to at least two other Arizona killings, reports the New York Times . Dr. Steven Pitt was gunned down Thursday outside his Phoenix office, and police are now saying that the murder of...

Human Age Can Be Revealed Through Sinus X-Rays
Human Age Can Be Revealed
Through Sinus X-Rays
new study

Human Age Can Be Revealed Through Sinus X-Rays

Could help forensic scientists working with 'incomplete remains'

(Newser) - When scientists are working with only partial remains, it can be very difficult to determine age. Now forensic anthropologists say they've found a way to help approximate age in children: noninvasive X-rays of the skull's frontal sinus region. Reporting in the journal Anatomical Record , they say that's...

Man's Retrial Thanks to Bad Fire Science Ends in Shocker

Ed Graf's retrial for murdering 2 stepsons in shed fire based on new arson science

(Newser) - In 1988, Ed Graf was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for killing his stepsons Joby, 9, and Jason, 8, in 1986 by locking them in a shed, dousing it with gasoline, and setting it on fire. Everything was there to prove the case against the Texas man, per...

New Test Figures Out Exact Time of Death

It can determine a person's time of death up to 10 days later

(Newser) - Current forensic tests use a person's core body temperature to determine their time of death, but it only works within roughly three days of death. Now researchers at the University of Salzburg in Austria say they've devised a new method that can figure out the exact time of...

How Rapists Who Wear Condoms Could Be Caught
How Rapists Who Wear Condoms Could Be Caught
new study

How Rapists Who Wear Condoms Could Be Caught

Bacterial profiles of pubic hair so unique they could identify perpetrators

(Newser) - Investigators routinely analyze pubic hairs found at crime scenes where rape is suspected, but it's rare that the hair has its root, and thus sufficient DNA to identify its former owner. Now researchers say that bacterial colonies on pubic hairs appear to be so unique to an individual that...

How Hair Can (and Can't) Tell Us If Someone Is Dead

Fungus-eaten locks don't mean a missing person is dead

(Newser) - If hair at a crime scene shows signs of a "fungal invasion," forensic scientists may well conclude the hair's owner is dead—but that's not the case, a new study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B explains. Conventional wisdom has held that the fungi...

Nasty Corpse Smell Can Reveal Secrets

Forensic experts measure volatile compounds in cadavers

(Newser) - Yes, corpses smell awful—but more careful scrutiny of that stench may help investigators learn just when a person died, the Royal Society of Chemistry reports. Apparently the trick is to measure volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like sulfurs, alcohols, and nitro compounds that change in combination and quantity as a...

Mass. Still Has 'Gargantuan' Cleanup Over Crooked Lab

Investigation looks at fallout over chemist Annie Dookhan's fraud

(Newser) - It was, a judge said, "nothing short of catastrophic" when a former Massachusetts police chemist pleaded guilty in 2012 to tampering with evidence, misleading investigators, and a host of other crimes. Annie Dookhan lied about credentials, forged colleagues' initials, and guessed at results. She had touched some 40,000...

'Bone Sleuth' Clyde Snow Dead at 86
 'Bone Sleuth' 
 Clyde Snow 
 Dead at 86 

'Bone Sleuth' Clyde Snow Dead at 86

The forensic anthropologist identified skeletons far and wide

(Newser) - Clyde Snow, an upbeat chainsmoker who spent his life probing skeletons for their secrets—including proof they had been brutally murdered—died Friday at the age of 86, the New York Times reports. The causes were emphysema and cancer, his wife said. Officially a forensic anthropologist, Snow traveled far and...

Bad News: Looks Like Suspect's Mom Did Burn Art

Paint is found in ashes of oven; works were by Picasso, Monet, others

(Newser) - It may be a case of art to ashes—and scientists are trying to get to the bottom of the mystery. A Romanian museum official said yesterday that ash from the oven of a woman whose son is charged with stealing seven multimillion-dollar paintings—including a Matisse, a Picasso and...

How to ID an Old Corpse? With This 'Secret' Fluid

In crime-infested Mexico, it comes in handy

(Newser) - A forensic expert in one Mexico's most violent cities has found a way to cull secrets from corpses that have gone dry, AFP reports. Alejandro Hernandez, who handles waves of dead bodies in Ciudad Juarez, lowers them into a homemade solution that makes their murder wounds and facial features...

Forensics From 10K Criminal Cases to Get New Review

Cases as far back as 1985 to get a second look by Justice Dept, FBI

(Newser) - The Justice Department and FBI have launched the FBI's biggest-ever post-conviction review, taking a second look at thousands of cases to determine whether defendants were wrongly convicted because of faulty forensic analysis. The review will examine all cases involving FBI Laboratory hair and fiber examiners going back to at...

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