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Clandestine Drug Labs Present Significant Hazards

September 29, 2014 | Articles | Comments

Due to the chemicals used to make the drugs and the wastes generated during the “cooking,” clandestine laboratories present significant safety and health risks to law enforcement, forensic scientists, and the public. When a clandestine drug lab is discovered there is a basic three stage approach to move from seizure to a fully restored site.

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Fingerprinting in Adverse Conditions

September 30, 2014 5:42 pm | by Dick Warrington | Lynn Peavey Company | Articles | Comments

If you’re lucky, you may arrive at a crime scene and find an ideal situation for processing. Usually, though, scenes are not pristine. You may have anything from an unsecured shed to open fields to swamps and ponds. Weather is often a problem. In this issue, I’ll look at fingerprinting essentials in extreme conditions.  

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Biohazard Control

September 30, 2014 5:36 pm | by Vince McLeod, CIH | Articles | Comments

Working in forensic sciences will invariably bring you into potential contact with infectious agents. The foundation for safe performance of duties and proper containment is an effective exposure control plan. This article discusses the basic elements of a comprehensive exposure control plan, what each element should contain, and tips on successful implementation.

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Breaking Good

September 30, 2014 5:30 pm | by Jenny Button | Chiron AS | Articles | Comments

In recent years we have seen the drug market flooded with new psychoactive substances, often misleadingly termed “legal highs.” The emergence of new compounds is growing year on year, leaving many working in this area floundering under the ingenuity of the market, and the speed at which it reacts.  

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Equipment Changes Drive Changes in Facility Design

September 30, 2014 5:25 pm | by Cy Henningsen | Crime Lab Design | Articles | Comments

Laboratory equipment is one of the drivers of the design of a forensic facility. In this article I will review a few pieces of equipment which have changed over time and how lab design has been adapted to meet those changes. I will review a change in the equipment used to compare and analyze firearms evidence, genetic analyzers used in DNA analysis, and a piece of equipment which tests toxicology samples.

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Streamlining the Digital Forensic Workflow: Part 2

September 30, 2014 5:18 pm | by John J. Barbara | Digital Forensics Consulting, LLC | Articles | Comments

Often an examiner will analyze all the digital media only to determine that the probative data was limited to a browser’s history file, an e-mail, a document, the mobile devices’ logs, or an inappropriate graphic video or picture. Finding the critical probative data faster in a cost effective manner while reducing or eliminating case backlogs is going to require a more efficient methodology.

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When More Expensive Costs Less

September 30, 2014 5:14 pm | by Jared Bradley | Articles | Comments

Recently I was training a group of investigators at a large law enforcement agency on wet-vacuum forensic DNA collection. Over the course of our conversation, I learned there were a couple of people who were not overly enthusiastic about introducing a new collection method to the cases. This hesitancy from some didn’t surprise me, but it did get me thinking about how to address it.

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The Dirty World of Body Farm Microbes

September 30, 2014 5:05 pm | by Dr. Gulnaz Javan | Articles | Comments

Dirt is full of life, microbial life. Although dirt seems to be an inert, lifeless material, one gram of soil may contain up to eight billion living bacterial cells. Grave soil found next to dead and decomposing human bodies is teeming with many microbial secrets that have yet to be uncovered. 

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What are the difficulties in detecting bath salts, their effects and how do we test for them?

September 30, 2014 4:36 pm | by Dr. Joanne Darragh | Randox Toxicology | Articles | Comments

With bath salts being a new product with no exact chemical composition, toxicology companies have struggled to produce a detection technique. As many bath salts are made up of a large drug concoction, with current tests only detecting an individual drug and not a variety of drugs, this also decreases the possibility of detection.    

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To say that developments in “Rapid DNA” have been progressing quickly is an understatement. From a front page USA Today article headline reading “Rapid DNA Test Could Transform Crime Fight”, to its first use in a criminal prosecution and, most importantly

Improved Tools for Challenging DNA Samples

September 30, 2014 11:43 am | News | Comments

Through the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, NIJ has made available the following final technical reports: Improved Tools for the Robust Analysis of Low Copy Number and Challenged DNA Samples and Application of Proteinases for DNA Isolation of Challenged Bone Specimens.

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Beheading Crime Scene Analyzed

September 30, 2014 11:40 am | News | Comments

At approximately 1600 hrs. on September 24, 2014  30-year-old Alton Nolen was fired at Vaughan Foods in Moore, Oklahoma. He immediately drove to the front of the business, struck a vehicle and walked into the front office area. He attacked 54-year-old Colleen Hufford with a knife until he severed her head. 

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Forensic Evidence Links Two Cases

September 30, 2014 10:13 am | by Larry O'Dell, Associated Press | News | Comments

And now police believe they have found a link between the 2009 slaying of Morgan Harrington and the Sept. 13 disappearance of Hannah Graham: Forensic evidence found in the arrest of a hospital worker and former taxi driver who fled the state when he learned police wanted to question him about the Graham case.

Cold Case: Murder of Bridget Phillips

September 29, 2014 11:06 am | News | Comments

Bridget Phillips was a 22-year-old graduate student at Johns Hopkins University when she was found beaten to death on March 22, 1989 in the doorway of her off-campus apartment.  She wasn't robbed or sexually assaulted, leading police to believe she knew her attacker.

New Houston Lab Director Ready for Challenge

September 29, 2014 10:56 am | News | Comments

Daniel Garner was ready to drift quietly into retirement after decades on the forefront in the field of forensic science. Just months into his retirement, Garner was lured back to work as director of the Houston Forensic Science Center, the reincarnation of the once-beleaguered Houston Police Department crime lab.

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DNA from blood found in Dante Taylor’s vehicle and items at his home matches that of the two women killed last summer in Sodus, New York. That was the testimony of a forensic scientist during Taylor’s trial in Wayne County Court.

DNA Takes Time

September 29, 2014 10:47 am | News | Comments

DNA evidence for solving crimes can be very helpful, but it has it’s drawbacks. One of them is the time law enforcement agencies wait for their samples to be processed. Wisconsin’s Department of Justice made it a priority years ago to cut down the backlog at the state’s crime lab. Now, many more types of cases are using DNA evidence.

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In the public mind, forensic science means cutting-edge technology: well-equipped professionals performing complex experiments in glossy laboratories. In fact, the real story of forensics is full of courtroom disasters, eccentric pioneers, crowd-pleasing

The Grisly History of Forensics

September 26, 2014 1:35 pm | by Val McDermid, the Guardian | News | Comments

In the public mind, forensic science means cutting-edge technology: well-equipped professionals performing complex experiments in glossy laboratories. In fact, the real story of forensics is full of courtroom disasters, eccentric pioneers, crowd-pleasing showmen and dangerous (sometimes fatal) research.

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