DNA

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For 12 Years, She Was Known Only as Lavender Doe

Then volunteers dug into her DNA

(Newser) - She was given the name "Lavender Doe" by a stranger—a commenter on a true-crimes website that recounted the slim details of the young woman's case. She was found dead, her body on fire, on Oct. 29, 2006, near Longview, Texas. She was at most 25, blond, and... More »

Cops: Serial Rapists Who Struck in 1990s Found With Genealogy

Including the so-called 'Potomac River Rapist'

(Newser) - Police say two serial rapists have been caught—one in California and one in South Carolina—thanks to genetic genealogy. Giles Daniel Warrick, accused of sexually assaulting 10 women and killing one in Washington, DC, and Maryland in the 1990s, was arrested last week in Conway, SC, after authorities connected... More »

'What Does It Mean?' Remains Identified After 4 Decades, but Mystery Lingers

DNA sample leads to a relative of missing teen Sandy Morden

(Newser) - For almost 40 years, the body discovered at Fly Creek near Amboy, Washington, in 1980 was known simply as "Fly Creek Jane Doe." But then investigators uploaded DNA from the skeletal remains to a public genetic genealogy database. The move ultimately led them to a cousin of Sandra... More »

New Search for Answers in a 1944 Tragedy

Authorities in Connecticut exhume 2 unidentified victims of massive circus fire

(Newser) - The two women have lain unidentified in a Connecticut cemetery for more than seven decades, but now authorities hope to prove one of them is Grace Fifield. On Monday, the state medical examiner exhumed the bodies of the women, both of whom died in an infamous 1944 circus fire in... More »

Trump Has New Plan for Migrants' DNA

The DNA would be placed in a huge crime database

(Newser) - The Trump administration is planning to expand the collection of DNA from migrants who cross US borders, and to include the information in a massive criminal database operated by the FBI, the AP reports. The effort is separate from and much broader than the rapid DNA testing done on families... More »

8K Rape Kits Were Finally Tested. Nearly a Quarter Had a 'Hit'

Results in Florida could potentially spur leads in thousands of unsolved cases

(Newser) - Officials in Florida have finally made headway with a huge backlog of the state's rape kits, and out of the thousands that have been tested over the past four years or so, a significant number of "hits" have emerged from a DNA database. The Tallahassee Democrat and Orlando ... More »

DNA Samples From Loch Ness Lead to One 'Plausible' Theory

Scientists set to unveil that theory on mythical monster next week

(Newser) - Scientists failed to find Nessie in a study of Scotland's Loch Ness—but they did come up with a possible explanation for more than 1,000 reported sightings of the mythical monster, including 14 this year, per the Mirror . Unfortunately, we don't yet know the details. The findings,... More »

Cold-Case Murder Revived by Simple Job Application

Todd Barket's trial in Florida began Monday

(Newser) - A 21-year-old cold case has come to life over—of all things—a job application, the Washington Post reports. Sondra Better, 68, was stabbed to death while working at a Florida consignment shop in 1998, her wounded hands suggesting a fight for her life. The killer left a trail of... More »

2 Fla. Cops Sent In Their DNA. Turns Out They're Brothers

Neither officer had any idea of the other's existence before 23andMe informed them

(Newser) - Two police officers who live and work hours apart in Florida each submitted DNA swabs to 23andMe—and ended up discovering that they're brothers. Sgt. David Stull, 51, with the Orange County Sheriff's Office, sent an email to Eric Reynolds, 49, of the Boynton Beach Police Department explaining... More »

62-Year-Old Arrested for Crime That's Nearly 40 Years Old

North Carolina man Robert James Adkins was hauled in on Friday

(Newser) - A North Carolina man was arrested Friday for allegedly raping and murdering a teenage girl nearly 40 years ago, the Winston-Salem Journal reports. Robert James Adkins, 62, was charged with first-degree forcible rape and first-degree murder of Ronda Mechelle Blaylock, whose partly-clothed body was found in a wooded area in... More »

DNA Triggers Trial in 1987 Killing of Canadian Couple

They were traveling from British Columbia to Seattle when they disappeared

(Newser) - Jurors in Washington state on Friday heard about the mysterious final days of a young Canadian couple killed in 1987—as well as the novel method authorities used to finally make an arrest three decades later, the AP reports. William Earl Talbott II was arrested last year and charged with... More »

DNA Arrest of 82-Year-Old Leaves Town in Shock

Ray Vannieuwenhoven is accused in a 1976 double murder

(Newser) - All it took was a licked envelope, and Wisconsin police arrested 82-year-old handyman Ray Vannieuwenhoven for allegedly murdering a young couple on a camping trip in 1976—but some people are struggling to believe it, the AP reports. "I said, 'You gotta be kidding me,'" said... More »

Chilling New Material Appears to Be 'Alive'

Cornell University scientists point to a future of 'lifelike' robots

(Newser) - Scientists have created a new material—some are calling it a little machine—that's oddly lifelike and points to a possible future in which robots are "alive," TheNextWeb reports. In Science Robotics , Cornell engineers say they've invented a biomaterial based on artificial DNA that has its... More »

Looks Like Revolutionary War Hero Wasn't Male

Casimiar Pulaski may have been female or intersex, researchers say

(Newser) - A Revolutionary War hero dubbed the "father of the American cavalry" may well have been female or even intersex, if new research holds up. Experts analyzing the DNA and bones of Casimiar Pulaski—a Polish-American soldier who was fatally wounded in the 1779 Siege of Savannah—say the skeleton... More »

Girls Never Made It Home From a 1999 Party. Now, a Suspect

New DNA testing technique has tied Coley McCraney to murder of 2 teen girls in 1999

(Newser) - Nearly 20 years after they were murdered, two Alabama teens may finally get some justice, and it was partly the case of the Golden State Killer that led to the break in theirs. The story of what had happened to Dothan's JB Beasley and Tracie Hawlett, both 17, on... More »

This Might Be Great White Sharks' Biggest Advantage

Decoded genome sheds light on how they heal their own wounds, stay healthy

(Newser) - Scientists for the first time have decoded the genome of the great white shark, and the results show that humans have much to learn from the long-lived creatures. The sharks' genes seem especially suited to healing their own wounds and warding off illness, reports Wired . "These include DNA sequences... More »

A Distant Cousin's DNA Test Could Lead FBI to You

FBI can trace more than half of Americans via a third cousin's DNA

(Newser) - Federal investigators looking to solve crimes can find a DNA match for a relative as close as a third cousin (connected by a great-great grandparent) to more than half of Americans by accessing genealogy databases. Yaniv Erlich, chief science officer at DNA testing company MyHeritage, came to that conclusion after... More »

After 70 Years, Nazi Conspiracy Theory Debunked

DNA tests confirm Rudolf Hess died in prison

(Newser) - The man who hanged himself at the age of 93 in Berlin's Spandau Prison in 1987 really was Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler's former deputy, DNA tests have confirmed, quashing a conspiracy theory that persisted for more than 70 years. Researchers trying to prove that the Nazi was not... More »

'Incredibly Rare': Extinct Wolf DNA Turns Up in Texas

Canines on Galveston Island could be red wolf-coyote hybrid

(Newser) - The red wolf was declared effectively extinct in the American wild almost 40 years ago, but, like the Neanderthal, it lives on in descendants still thriving today. That's the welcome discovery revealed in a study in Genes , which found a substantial amount of red wolf DNA in two road-kill... More »

Scientific Giant Stripped of Honors Over Racist Comments

Nobel laureate James Watson ghosted by his own lab after new racist comments

(Newser) - James Watson, the Nobel Prize-winning DNA scientist who lost his job in 2007 for racist views, was stripped of several honorary titles Friday by the New York lab he once headed. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory said it was reacting to Watson's remarks in a TV documentary aired earlier this... More »

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