Science Thursday – October 18, 2012


The work of an Ohio coroner raises concern, a Massachusetts crime lab scandal may impact federal cases, and new research may help in identifying unknown victims. Here’s this week’s round up of forensic news:


Misconduct at the Massachusetts’ State Department of Public Health drug lab may extend to federal cases,

spurring a review of more than 100 cases

. U.S. District Chief Judge Mark Wolf explained that court officials discovered that a lab chemist who mishandled thousands of samples used in local and state police cases also tested evidence used by federal prosecutors.


Researchers from Canada, Sweden and the U.S. recently released their results on a new forensic technique called “bomb-pulse dating.” The methodology utilizes the

spike of atmospheric levels of carbon-14 after nuclear testing in the 1950’s

as a parameter to date unidentified human remains.


An Ohio coroner faces scrutiny after determining the cause of death in one of his cases to be suicide

though he failed to perform an autopsy

. A forensic pathologist investigating his work concluded that basic steps such as collecting crime scene evidence were ignored.


A forensic examiner in Mexico has developed a new technique to rehydrate unidentified murder victims. The process involves

soaking the remains in a glycerin-based solution

in hopes that certain recognizable features will arise and aid in identification.


A common nationwide trend of underfunding and understaffing, as seen in a crime lab in Rhode Island, leaves many crime lab directors worried about how increased caseloads and stress from the race to reduce backlogs

may lead to errors


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