Posts Tagged ‘ familial DNA ’

Aaaandd, we still don’t know who Jack the Ripper was.

Looks like I posted a little to quickly. Now now, I am not saying that Aaron Kosminski wasn’t the ripper I am saying the DNA is far from conclusive.

MtDNA is passed down from a mother to her children, and many people can share the same mtDNA signature. The signature linked to Kosminski, T1a1, is a relatively common subtype. Thus, the determination doesn’t mean much unless the signature can be narrowed down to a rarer subtype, or unless additional evidence can be brought to bear (as was the case for identifying the remains of Russia’s Czar Nicholas II and his family).

A larger question has to do with the scarf’s history: It’s been open to contamination for decades, and it’s not even clear that it was really left behind by Eddowes (or her killer) after the 1888 murder. “In the community of so-called experts, it’s not really considered evidence,” Ryder said.

http://www.nbcnews.com/science/science-news/was-it-aaron-kosminski-jack-ripper-dna-claims-get-ripped-n198506

Casebook Jack The Ripper is also not convinced and since that is THE place for Ripperplogists I give them weight.

The History Channel has a good article on this. The chain of evidence for the shawl tested is a little sketchy to say the least.

The Victorian-era shawl reportedly taken by Simpson passed from generation to generation of the policeman’s descendants until it was put up for auction in 2007 and purchased by Russell Edwards, an English businessman and self-confessed “armchair detective” who was fascinated by the coldest of cold cases. Although the silk fabric was frayed and aging, it still contained valuable DNA evidence since it was never washed. Now, after more than three years of scientific analysis, Russell says that Jack the Ripper’s true identity has been found interwoven in the ragged, 126-year-old shawl, and he fingers Polish immigrant Aaron Kosminski as the serial killer in his new book “Naming Jack the Ripper.”

I haven’t read the book yet but if any of you have please let me know what you think,

As of now even though I would have loved to have a name I also kind of like the mystery in this one case. Usually I really want the killer named this one though…. ?

Judge in ‘Grim Sleeper’ serial murder case OKs use of DNA

Article here

Rejecting defense arguments that a suspect in the slayings of 10 women and the attempted murder of an 11th had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the DNA he left on pizzeria plates and utensils, a California judge on Tuesday OK’d the evidence gathered by a police officer who posed as a restaurant busboy.

The ruling by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy helps clear the way for the case against Lonnie Franklin Jr. to proceed toward trial this summer, reports the Los Angeles Times. Franklin, who is about 60 years old, is being held without bail following his arrest in 2010.

The suspect in the case was nicknamed the “Grim Sleeper” because of a seeming years-long hiatus in slayings that took place over a period of over 20 years, according to authorities.

Although his DNA was not initially in a database available to law enforcement, investigators focused on Franklin as a suspect after asking the state to try to match DNA recovered at the crime scenes to individuals in the database who might be a relative of the suspect.

He is not even arguing that it is his DNA only that the cops obtained it the wrong way. I do not care how the cops got his DNA I am just happy that they finally took this bastard off the streets.

Forensic Labs Shutting Down

The top scientist behind a DNA breakthrough that solved a notorious triple murder has warned future research may be put in jeopardy by the closure of the Forensic Science Service (FSS).

Dr Jonathan Whitaker, a senior forensic scientist at the government-run company, said the planned closure of the FSS next month could put an end to the kind of “blue sky” research that led to the identification of Wales’ first documented serial killer.

The body of former Port Talbot nightclub bouncer Joe Kappen was exhumed in 2002 after a breakthrough DNA technique proved he was the notorious “Saturday night strangler” behind the 1973 murders of Geraldine Hughes and Pauline Floyd, both 16, and 16-year-old Sandra Newton three months earlier.

 Dr Whitaker was one of a team of forensic scientists working on the case and pioneered the use of familial DNA, which allows detectives to track down culprits via their family members.

Speaking to WalesOnline, he said the discovery would not have been possible without the kind of money and resources made available to scientists at the FSS, which began the process of winding down last year after it emerged it was losing some £2m a month.

But Dr Whitaker said the kind of research it did – something private companies taking over its work will not be able to afford to do – meant the FSS would “undoubtedly lose money”.

He said because of this, the ability of such companies to produce similar breakthroughs in DNA research in future “remains to be seen”.

Speaking from Weatherby, Yorkshire, where one of the last FSS labs to remain open is based, he said: “In future the other forensic providers have provided assurance that there will be money and resources to do research, but the FSS always had that big group of people able to do it.

“It remains to be seen whether it will be done on the same scale and whether it will have the same blue sky approach, rather than being dictated by the needs of the police.”

Dr Whitaker was researching “low copy number” DNA at a lab in Birmingham when he was approached by South Wales Police to help in their cold case investigation into the murders of Geraldine Hughes and Pauline Floyd.

The girls had been on a night out in Swansea’s Top Rank nightclub when they disappeared in September 1973.

Their raped, bloodied and strangled bodies were found the next morning at 10am in a wooded copse near their homes in Llandarcy.

The case grabbed national headlines and sparked a major manhunt, but eventually ground to a halt when no suspects were found.

Almost three decades later, a cold case team led by then-Detective Inspector Paul Bethell took up the case once more – convinced that advances in DNA technology would lead them to their man.

“This was where I came in,” said Dr Whitaker.

“It was around 2000 and I was working in the research and development group in Birmingham.

“We were working on a new way of using low copy number DNA profiling, which was opening up the possibility of generating DNA profiles from much smaller samples of DNA.

“In the past we had needed a blood stain about the size of a 10p piece, but this new technique meant we could generate profiles from millimetre-sized stains – or even just areas people had touched or handled.

“It was a also a very good way of extracting profiles from old DNA material which had broken down in a process of deterioration.”

Using the technique, Dr Whitaker was able to use old evidence kept on file by South Wales Police and the FSS to generate a complete profile of the killer’s DNA.

Further tests soon convinced police that this was the person responsible for the murder – not just of Geraldine Hughes and Pauline Floyd – but also of another 16-year-old, Sandra Newton, whose body was found in a ditch in Tonmawr after a night out in Briton Ferry three months before.

Over the next months the scientist and his team scoured the National DNA Database but were unable to find an exact match.

In normal cases, they would have uploaded the DNA profile to the database and left it there, hoping the culprit’s DNA might some day find its way onto the database. But this wasn’t any normal case.

“We were thinking these cases are so important to get a resolution, especially if someone is out there still offending,” said Dr Whitaker.

“People don’t forget this sort of thing and they worry about whether the culprit is still living in their community.”

With this in mind, Dr Whitaker and his team quietly went ahead with more tests – tests that would change the face of criminal investigations for good.

The new technique involved looking through the DNA database for partial matches, which would mean the person was a direct relative of the killer.

DCI Paul Bethell – now a senior investigating officer on South Wales Police’s cold case team – still remembers the phone call in which Dr Whitaker told him his investigation was back on track.

He said: “We had a small team working to get DNA samples from 500 potential suspects. I remember we had reached number 353 when I had this incredible phone call from Jonathan saying he had tried this new technique and come up with a new suspect list.

“There were several hundred possibilities, but by narrowing it down to the locality we were able to bring it down to 12, and one of those 12 was a name we recognised from the original investigation – Joseph Kappen.”

Kappen had originally been questioned as one of thousands of men in the vicinity who owned a car matching the description of one seen near Geraldine Hughes and Pauline Floyd when they disappeared.

In 2002 – in pouring rain and with thunder crashing overhead – police exhumed Kappen’s body from its grave and took DNA samples that proved his guilt.

“It was a day of great celebration,” said Dr Whitaker.

“It stands out in my memory even now because it was a huge milestone in the way that we could carry out investigations.”

DCI Bethell added: “It is really not an exaggeration to say that if it wasn’t for the work of Jonathan and Dr Colin Dark at the FSS and the tremendous work done in 1973 by preserving the forensic evidence we would not have solved that case.

“The FSS has done stirling work for 60 years and as a police service we are very sad to see them going.

“It’s almost like losing a member of the family because we have worked so closely together over the years – but we have to go forward and look to the future.”

* Jeffrey Gafoor

In 2003 security guard Jeffrey Gafoor was sentenced to life for the murder of prostitute Lynette White.

Three local men, Yusef Abdullahi, Tony Paris and Steven Miller, were convicted but were freed on appeal.

 

Almost a decade later, DNA technology advances and a new sample found at the scene helped to catch the real culprit.

Gafoor was not on the database but a sample taken from a relative gave the match that led to his arrest.

* John Cooper

John Cooper stood trial last year for the murders of brother and sister Helen and Richard Thomas and husband and wife Peter and Gwenda Dixon.

A key part of the evidence against Cooper rested on a partial DNA profile of Peter Dixon from paint flakes taken from the hand-painted barrel of a shotgun used by the defendant in a previous burglary.

When the black paint was stripped from the barrel, a microscopic bead of blood was found.

* Mark Hampson

The murder of Geraldine Palk went undetected for more than a decade until DNA technology led to Mark Hampson’s arrest.

The shipping clerk’s body was discovered in the brook running alongside Fairwater Leisure Centre in Cardiff three days before Christmas 1990.

Hampson was convicted and jailed for life at Bristol Crown Court in November 2002. He died in 2007.

* John Pope

In 2007, labourer John Randall Pope was arrested in connection with the death – more than 10 years before – of Karen Skipper, after blood discovered on the clothes she was wearing on the night of her death were found to have blood stains matching his DNA.

In 2010 the Court of Appeal quashed his murder conviction and ordered a retrial.

He was convicted of murder last year and sentenced to a minimum of 19 years in prison.

The history of the Forensic Science Service:

1929: Police reformer Arthur Dixon submits a proposal to the Home Secretary for the establishment of a police college, with laboratories to provide scientific research and investigation;

1934: Small police laboratories are established in Bristol and Nottingham;

1937: The first regional Forensic Science Service laboratory opens in Birmingham, followed by laboratories in Cardiff, Preston and Wakefield;

 

1984: Sir Alec Jeffreys, a professor at the University of Leicester, discovers DNA fingerprinting;

1986: The first DNA profiling is introduced;

1990: Single Locus Probe DNA profiling begins, enabling DNA to be extracted from smaller samples;

1994: Mitochondrial DNA profiling is developed, for use on old and degraded material;

1999: Low Copy Number DNA profiling is developed;

2000: The number of suspect profiles on the National DNA Database passes the one million mark;

2007: The DNA database becomes the world’s largest, containing 4.5m samples taken during criminal inquiries;

2010: The Government announces the FSS – which now employs 1,600 people – is to be wound up;

2011: Laboratories in Chepstow, Chorley and Birmingham are closed down;

2012: Remaining offices and laboratories to close in March.

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Police Hoping That Familial DNA Can Help Catch Another Serial Killer

Daytona Beach Victims

Daytona Beach’s top cop believes new DNA technology will help his department catch the serial killer who has eluded police since 2005.

Familial DNA has helped police in California nab the so-called Grim Sleeper serial killer.

He was called that because he lay dormant in between murders for 18 years.

“We’re extremely interested in this because of our serial killer. Our serial killer may have an offspring, which is in the database,” said Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood.

Police in California had DNA of the Grim Sleeper in a nationwide database.

The killer is responsible for the deaths of 10 women dating back to the 1980s.

New software emerged that tracks DNA of the killer’s family members, in this case his son, who was arrested on an unrelated crime.

Investigators used the information and followed the father, Lonnie Franklin, 57.

They took a DNA sample from pizza Franklin had recently eaten, made the exact match and then arrested the former garage attendant.

The Daytona Beach serial killer left behind DNA samples inside three of the four women he raped and killed.

The first was Laquetta Gunther, 45, who’s body was found on Beach Street on Dec. 26, 2005.

On Jan. 14, 2006, the body of Julie Green, 34, was found in a construction site off of LPGA Boulevard.

Iwanna Patton, 35, was found on Williamson Boulevard six weeks later on Feb. 24.

The killer then laid dormant for two years.

Twenty-year-old Stacey Gage’s body turned up Jan. 2, 2008 in a wooded area on Hancock Boulevard.

The DNA sample was turned over to Florida Department of Law Enforcement where it waits for a perfect match.

But Chitwood wants to use familial DNA to track down the serial killer’s family members, which in turn could lead back to the killer.

However, familial DNA is only approved in states like California, Colorado, and recently in Virginia. It has been used in Great Britain for several years.

Chitwood is working with the State Attorney’s Office, who is trying to convince both the state attorney general, as well as Gov. Rick Scott to sign off on it for use in Florida.

The police chief said familial DNA would only be used in major crimes, like the serial killer case.

He believes that if approved, it could be in use within a year.

Chitwood said the person who came up with the software is making it available to FDLE for free.

But he said the clock is ticking.

“You have a killer on the loose who has killed four women, who is not gonna stop,” Chitwood said. “We may be in a cooling off period here. But if we have learned anything in the history of this country with serial killers, they’ll continue until they get caught.”

Source

I am all for the use of familial DNA especially in cases involving serial crimes. I do not know why people worry so much about using it. It helped to catch the Grim Sleeper, Lonnie Franklin and DNA has helped to link unknown victims to their killers. I think we need to give law enforcement all the help that we can.

Lonnie David Franklin Jr. Indictment Unsealed

LOS ANGELES (Reuters)

Prosecutors unsealed an indictment on Thursday charging an accused serial killer dubbed the “Grim Sleeper” with murdering 10 girls and women during a Los Angeles-area crime spree that spanned three decades.

The suspect, Lonnie David Franklin Jr., 58, who worked as a neighborhood mechanic, has been jailed without bond since he was arrested outside his home on July 7, partly on the basis of DNA evidence linking him to the killings through genetic material of his son.

He is accused of shooting to death or strangling seven of his victims between August 1985 and September 1988 and three others between March 2002 and January 2007. The suspect was dubbed “the Grim Sleeper” because of a gap of more than 13 years between the killing sprees.

The girls and women he attacked ranged in age from 14 to 36, and many were prostitutes. Some were raped before they were slain. Their bodies were dumped in alleys and trash bins and covered with debris.

The indictment spares prosecutors the need for a preliminary hearing to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to take their case against Franklin to trial.

“The families of the victims should be accorded timely resolution of the allegations of the murders of their loved ones,” District Attorney Steve Cooley said in a statement.

Franklin is due in court April 4 for a pre-trial hearing.

Source

CNN Article

Link to an article about familial DNA.

Since 2008, California has allowed so-called familial DNA searches, in which investigators look for close-but-not-exact matches between DNA evidence collected at crime scenes and the state’s data bank of DNA collected from 1.3 million convicted felons. The method has a longer history in the United Kingdom, where it led to a conviction in a murder case in 2004. In Colorado, the only other U.S. state to allow it, the method led to a guilty plea in a car-theft case in Denver last year.

California allows familial DNA searches only for violent crimes in which the perpetrator is still believed to be a danger to society. Sims and Myers say they have run 10 searches so far. The first nine came up empty, including a 2008 search with DNA evidence from the Grim Sleeper crime scene. “We did not find anybody in the database who we thought was a potential relative,” says Sims.

However, a second search in April 2010 did turn up a potential match: a young man named Christopher Franklin who was convicted last year on a felony weapons charge. The DNA search, along with the dates of the murders cast suspicion on Christopher Franklin’s father. After an internal review of the evidence, investigators at the Bashinski lab notified the L.A. police, who followed the elder Franklin and eventually got a DNA sample from a discarded piece of pizza. Lonnie Franklin’s DNA matched DNA from the crime scenes, and police arrested him at his home last week.

 

I am not even going to try to state that I understand all the details of familial DNA searches. Even this article only seems to scratch the surface. Science is not my strongest subject.

I do know that it has been helpful in catching a few criminals.

Some people are against using familial DNA but I think in violent cases we, society, and the law must do everything to try to catch the offender. Law enforcement should be able to try new things, even if it is a little invasive. In violent, especially serial, murders the public has to give a little if they want law enforcement to be able to catch the criminal.

Serial killer photos

Grim Sleeper Unidentified Photos

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