Another Reminder about Preparing for an Emergency
I was recently provided with the following cheat sheet on how to prepare for an emergency. In the Northeast, winter is just starting - although I think we've had two snowfalls already. With Superstorm Sandy behind us and possibly winter snow storms coming in - I thought repeating the steps for Emergency Readiness would be helpful. But I also added some of my own thoughts, because, even with this great 3 step plan - there are difficulties in being prepared.
Through it's Ready Campaign the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA educates people to take some simple steps to prepare for emergencies.
There are 3 key things:
1. Get an emergency supply kit.
2. Make a family emergency plan
3. Be informed about the different emergencies.
1. Emergency supply kit. What should be in it?
- One gallon of water per person per day - too difficulty to assess because who was prepared to be without electricity, heat, running water from Superstorm Sandy - so our goal was to have at least enough water for a day or two - after that, we would had to leave our home and go somewhere with heat, hot water etc.,
- Flashlight and batteries - excellent and easy to obtain and keep available
- Battery powered radio- this became our only source of information - I'm not a millenial - I'm more like a baby boomer and sitting in a cold, dark house with only a battery powered radio was calming but aggravating because we could not see all the destruction that was being described. Also, our town was doing a local cablevision show about problems with running water - since we had no electricity in our home - we did not know about water problems. Small little towns have to do more in terms of getting the word out - at least one door knock on each block - we're not that big of a town.
- A three day supply of non-perishable food - doable, if you like canned foods
- Can opener - hand operated and able to find in the dark
- First Aid kit - see below comments
- Whistle to signal for help - good to know for next time.
Additional items to consider:
- Infant formula and diapers - OK
- Pet food - OK
- Prescription medication - how do I prepare for this? What doctor or pharmacist, for that matter, will provide me with a supply of meds, that I can put away for a rainy day - expiry dates come into mind, insurance company restrictions, refrigeration - really, how would someone have enough of their prescription meds for an additional month?
- Glasses - OK
- Sleeping bags - OK
- Warm blankets and clothes for each person - OK
- Moist towelettes and garbage bags - OK
- Important family documents in a water and fire proof container - OK - maybe have a duplicate set in a bank safe as well. I don't think that a fire/water proof container was of any use to the families along the shore lines who lost everything - it's just gone.
2. Make a family emergency plan.
- Decide how you will get in contact with each other during an emergency - you don't have control over how you will get in contact with anyone- no internet means no phone in some cases, no electricity means no landlines - you may not have a method of getting in touch.
- Where will you go? How will you know?
- Where will you meet? This is a good plan - after 9/11, my husband and I made a plan to meet at a specific point in our State - I doubt today that he would remember that plan so every once in a while, I'll bring it up - but I get that "eyeroll" and so I think he's filing this conversation away under "over vigilant wife" - or some other nonsense.
3. Be informed about the different emergencies that could occur and their appropriate responses.
Superstorm Sandy gave us (my family) just a hint of what a real emergency might have been. I think we pulled together. We thank God that everyone in our family was OK and had options on where we could go. We pray for those who are still without homes, power, heat and everything else we take for granted everyday.
After "Sandy" FEMA websites in various languages
Generators and Candles - after Hurricane Sandy
When using a gasoline generator:
- Follow manufacturer's instructions.
- NEVER use a generator inside, including in the garage. Only use outside away from doors and windows.
- Keep gasoline cans away from the generator.
- Use a battery operated CO detector, to insure that fumes are not entering your home.
- NEVER plug a generator directly into outlets, and only use manufacturer recommended heavy duty extension cords.
- Store gas in a UL approved container.
- Secure gasoline in your trunk while transporting.
- NEVER smoke near any gas.
- When pouring gasoline, be careful not to spill.
If using candles:
- Place candles in sturdy metal, glass or ceramic holders.
- Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything flammable.
- NEVER use candles where medical oxygen is used.
- NEVER leave burning candles unattended. Extinguish candles after use and before going to bed.
Hurricane Sandy Hotlines
Child Safety Identification Tips for New Jersey
Over the last few weeks, we've listened to Channel 12 report on the number of child lurings in a particular area of Northern New Jersey. It is frightening that these creeps (or creep, as visual identification is not all that reliable, especially from a child who has been frightened), are able to wander our streets, without our knowledge and prey on a child possibly walking alone, or behind a group of children. Why can't the police put GPS trackers on known sex offenders? Too bad about their civil liberties, they lost that right when they crossed the line with a child.
The small towns have all held their Stranger Danger awareness events, where children are fingerprinted and photographed, so that they have some sort of identification. However, fingerprints are not valid for a lifetime and of course, a child's photograph will change in a matter of months. Age progression photographic work is interesting, but the best form of identification of a human being is DNA. Unlike dentition and fingerprints, DNA is used for both life and death identification.
A parent or guardian, of an elderly patient or family member working in an unstable country, might want to have a genetic profile of their loved one readily available to offer local authorities in the event of an emergency. Local mom's clubs are gathering members' children for a day's worth of Child Safety Profiling and Pizza. A mom's club representative can call her local DNA collector (The DNA Lady does a good event) in New Jersey and set up a day or half day of DNA collections for children. Depending on the number of children to be profiled, one lucky mom can have her child's profile free and the DNA Lady will donate a portion of the proceeds to a charity of the Mom's Club choice.
Since we are upon that favorite season of most kids, Halloween, here are some general tips on Safeguarding your Ghouls and Goblins:
Clear your yard and sidewalk of any obstacles or decorations that may be hard to see in the dark, lest someone go bump in the night. Keep your house well lighted on both the inside and outside. Ask your Neighborhood Watch or local citizens’ group to patrol your community. Report any suspicious or criminal activities to your police department.
Try makeup instead of masks; it does not obstruct vision the way masks can. Keep costumes short to ensure that the only trip taken is the one around the neighborhood. Look for brightly colored costumes, attach reflector strips to costumes and bags, and remind trick-or-treaters to carry glow sticks and flashlights.
Make sure your trick-or-treater’s night in the neighborhood will be safe and fun
Kids should trick-or-treat in groups. Kids walking around alone are not as safe as those walking in groups. A parent or trusted neighbor should accompany younger kids. Review the route for trick-or-treating beforehand and set a time for when kids should be home. Also, have a plan if your child separates accidentally from his or her friends or from you.
Remember that the treats still need scrutiny before anyone eats them
Remind your children not to eat any treats until they have come home. To help ensure this, feed them a meal or a substantial, healthy snack before they go out. Check all treats at home in a well-lighted place. Be especially wary of anything that is not factory-wrapped or that is no longer sealed.
For more information and tips on Halloween safety, visit the National Crime Prevention Councint at www.ncpc.org.
Let's keep our New Jersey Kids safe and have a Spooky and Safe Halloween. Child Safety Identification Profiles are also a great gift from grandparents. Remember, NJ Patricia Law doesn't mandate authorities to collect DNA on a reported missing or loved one, for at least 30 days after the event. The authorities will then take personal items and/or family DNA to try and do a genetic profile of a missing or loved one. Have an accredited DNA Profile readily available for authorities to use is just another tool in safeguarding your children.
Fingerprints are Just Not Enough Anymore
Every year, just around this time, I hear of the local town's efforts to safeguard the town's children by hooking up with an insurance company to create a digital fingerprint of your child, along with a photograph and other identifying information. 1,2,3 - parents are of the opinion they have done the best they can in order to safeguard their children against harm that is unspeakable. I JUST WANT TO SCREAM because fingerprints done on a 5 year old in September are most probably useless as identifying information on that same 5 year old - 6 months later - think how quickly your child grows - his/her fingerprints will ultimately change as well. If an insurance company is taking your child's information, they are also taking your information and the bottom line is a sales lead tool for the company. You have to clearly state to the person collecting the information to remove your name and your family's information from any future mailings or beware you will begin to receive large postcards with the need for your family to insure something valuable in their life.
In the below except from a Forensic Magazine, we are beginning to hear the stirrings of honesty when it comes to the validity of fingerprints as "proof" positive.
Instead, today's family's have access to Child Safety Identification Kits - done by your local DNA collector. Your child's unique DNA profile will be provided along with the same digital photograph and identifying information that is collected during the local town's Stranger Danger safety nights; however, DNA DOES NOT CHANGE THROUGHOUT YOUR LIFE TIME and therefore, the Child's DNA is a valid, uptodate method of identification which can be provided to the local authority in the event of an emergency. Child Safety Identifications kits - are also a good tool for families of civilians working in unstable countries. Forget the backlog and bureaucracy of government retrieving DNA - keep a profile of your loved one safely in your home along with other identifying documents.
By Sue Russell
Scientist Nancy Wright documented snowflakes in 1988 while studying cirrus clouds for the National Center for Atmospheric Research. During a Wisconsin snowstorm she found two identical sets of snow crystals — identical under a microscope, at least — giving lie to the old belief that no two snowflakes are alike. That aura of uniqueness also surrounds the arches, loops and whorls at the tips of our fingers, and to this day most fingerprint examiners remain steadfast that no two fingerprints are exactly alike.
“Fingerprint examiners typically testify in the language of absolute certainty,” professor Jennifer Mnookin at the Univ. of California Los Angeles has written. But like many other claims for forensic science, the assertion that fingerprints are unique lacked a solid scientific basis and now is viewed with new caution.
“The language of certainty that examiners are forced to use hides a great deal of uncertainty,” the UK’s Lord Justice Leveson put it when addressing the Forensic Science Society.
The DNA Lady can set up a day of Child Safety Identifications in your home. Hose a CSI day and get one CSI Profile for free. Call The DNA Lady to set up your appointments before the weather gets too cold and minds are turned to holiday shopping and family dinners.
Child Safety Identification
Alert: Missing Child: Infinity Parker, 10, Female, Black, 4ft, 60 lbs.
Last seen: S. Clinton St, E. Orange at 7AM on 4/19.
Hi Guillermo Beytagh,East Orange Police Department seeks your help in
locating a missing child:
Infinity Parker, 10 years old, Female, Black, 4-ft, 60 lbs.
Last seen: Leaving the school yard at S. Clinton Street, East Orange at
7:45AM on Thursday 4/19/12 wearing a burgundy shirt, black jacket and grey
Instructions:If you have information that can assist in helping safely
locate INFINITY PARKER, please call Detective Caldwell, East Orange PD at
973-266-5030 or 973-266-5000.
For full details, _view this message on the web_
Intelligenetics Once Again Facilitates Capture of Criminals
Goose Creek, SC - sound like a sleepy little town with wooden rockers on front porches and wheat blowing in the wind. However, both the police department and the local DNA testing facilities have once again facilitated the quick capture of a criminal through the collective efforts.
Goose Creek, SC police recognize the need for a Private Forensic laboratory. The state funded labs are usually over worked, underfunded and in some cases may be not up to par on equipment and the newest accreditations. Whereas, Intelligenetics, has to maintain a strict level of performance in order to maintain their accreditations in the DNA Testing Industry. Accreditation and strict adherence to protocol are what sets most private forensic laboratories apart from the state funded and/or non-accredited DNA sites popping up all over the internet. As with the DNA Lady in New Jersey, when you call Intelligenetics, you are speaking with an owner who has a personal interest in provided the best of care to your case - whether it be a forensic case, a private paternity test or the more intriguing infidelity testing.
Below is a newspaper's account on the recent assistance provided by Intelligenetics to the local authorities which expedited the capture of a bank robber using today's most of to date methodology of collecting DNA.
There is a monstrous backlog at the state crime lab. At times, more than 4,000 DNA samples from crimes across the state are waiting to be processed at the State Law Enforcement Division lab.
A local police department is tired of playing the state's waiting game and has found another way to solve crimes, using their own budget to fund forensic science.
The crime scene is First Federal Bank on St. James Avenue in Goose Creek, which was robbed in
In the surveillance video, a man in line shows the teller a note to hand over the money. Crimes like this one happen so quickly, but often take months of police work. Using DNA Forensic evidence, DNA, can speed up the process.
"It's a brilliant science," said Capt. Dave Soderberg with the Goose Creek Police Department. "And it's very exact."
Soderberg and his team take sealed packets from their evidence room, headed not to the SLED lab in Columbia, but instead to Intelligenetics, a private accredited lab in Hilton Head Island. Goose Creek police pay for this testing and get test results back in days.
While the SLED lab is free, the wait time can be eight to 10 months, time Soderberg says the bad guys are out there committing more crimes.
For the past year, the Goose Creek Police Department has funded its own forensics. In the First Federal Bank case, police had an arrest warrant six days after the suspect leaned on the bank counter.
"When he did that he left some of his DNA where his arms made contact with the counter top he left some of his DNA," said Dr. Daniel Dremers, director of Intelligenetics.
So how do police know who left the DNA on the counter? The suspect wasn't the only person at the bank counter. The man in front of the alleged suspect also left his DNA on the counter. Crime scene investigators say that in this particular case, when the robber leans in to show his message to the teller, he is taking away some of the first man's DNA and leaving a lot more of his behind. DNA samples will be a mixture, but most will be from the last man there. Intelligenetics is able to separate Y Chromosomes and develop separate male profiles, as long as the two males are not related.
In this case, police got more DNA evidence from the suspect's sunglasses, which were found outside the bank.
DNA can't been seen by the naked eye, but a good crime scene investigator can collect thousands of microscopic human cells. It only takes 15 to 20 to make a solid case.
"The DNA that we're interested in is on that swab," Demers said.
Demers' job is to analyze the cells people leave behind.
"It could be a handgun and there may be more than one person that's handled the gun and for some reason they think one person might be on the trigger and somebody else be on the magazine within the gun," Demers said.
The DNA is a person's blueprint and is unique to that individual.
"(In this case) it matched our suspect here perfectly," Soderberg said.
Fingerprints are also unique to us. Before DNA testing, police were frustrated when prints were smeared, but that isn't the case anymore.
"Now we know we can wipe or swab those areas and we can get that DNA," Soderberg said.
Not every Goose Creek crime will get this treatment. The department has to decide which cases will get the most bang for the taxpayer's buck. Sodoerberg believes private DNA testing saves money in the long run by getting criminals off the streets quickly and fingering the right suspect.
"It makes sure proof positive that the guilty are guilty and the innocent are innocent which is very important to us," Soderberg said.
The Hilton Head lab has a regional database called "Rodis," which identified a suspect in another Goose Creek case. Police went to the man's house and found a second suspect, the gun used in the crime and stolen goods.
Last year, the department paid $8,000 for DNA analysis. A small sum considering the damage these suspects create and fear they inflect on their victims.
State Contracts with Private DNA to Capture Criminals Quickly
I have the honor of personally knowing this private Forencis DNA Testing facility in Hilton Head, SC known as Intelligenetics. The office is friendly, kind and most of importantly very thorough. You will often get a polite lady on the phone who will be able to talk you through any questions regarding DNA testing, and, as a professional when she thinks your questions should be directed to the Laboratory Director, she coordinates that conversation, too. A client never leaves without having full understanding of the case and particulars. The proof is in the pudding as they say. Intelligenetics has been part of a local police departments system of profiling and matching DNA from an arrestee to items found at crime scenes. Most recently, in Goose Creek, SC two armed men entered a restaurant, shot one employee and then robbed the restaurant of the day's proceeds as well as other items. The shooting may have been accidental but nevertheless, the victims were terrified. Bad enough to have committed such a horrendous act, let alone to do so on Christmas eve. What kind of evil and desperation in the minds of such men.
The Goose Creek Police have created, with the assistance of Intelligenetics, a forensic DNA database. In this case, a ski mask was found not far from the restaurant. Intelligenetics Forensic laboratory was able to extract and profile the DNA on the ski mask and match it to one of the suspects in the Christmas Eve robbery. It is only 3 weeks out from Christmas Eve, had the Goose Creek Police waited for a State Crime Laboratory to handle the DNA these men would still be roaming the streets and able to commit other crimes. Having Intelligenetics handle the DNA profiling in this case, allows residents of Goose Creek to sleep better at night.
The ability to use a private DNA Testing Facility, to assist in profiling DNA evidence should be a part of every local police department's budget. Leaving the already back logged States Forensic laboratories to handle the more serious felony work (BARRMs plus K to my forensic professor at Kean University in New Jersey!) allows the capture of these petty criminals, who for all we know would get more cocky with time, if not caught. In this particular case, one of the victims was shot in the leg - still painful but not fatal (thank god for his family).
Perhaps, NJ Local Police Departments, at least those in the higher crime areas, should be allowed to bring in a local DNA collector to profile items found at crime scenes in order to match the DNA already loaded into CODIS. Most brick and mortar DNA collection offices, have been trained in Chain of Custody collections and are already providing DNA tests for government offices. A criminal background check and a fingerprint can be collected on the local DNA collector to insure no conflict of interest in a prior life. Similar to the process of vetting substitute teachers, local DNA collectors would be more than willing to undergo a background check in order to be eligible for local, forensic DNA collections from police in our higher, crime cities. While New Jersey has a fantastic, state of the art forensic laboratory - times are tough and bringing in a local DNA collector would only facilitate in the smaller crimes. Below is a cut and paste of the full news article as it appeared in the local Goose Creek, SC "Post and Courrier" and how the local Goose Creek police use a local forensic lab to expedite such cases.
Goose Creek DNA database solves robbery
By Andrew Knapp
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Goose Creek police's own DNA database helped solve a robbery that left a Zaxby's employee shot on Christmas Eve.
Christopher Darnell Wilson, 25, of Swamp Fox Lane and Donte Samar Brown, 23, of Jean Wells Drive each face seven felony charges, including six counts of armed robbery, five counts of kidnapping and one count of attempted murder. The robbers barged into the St. James Avenue restaurant just after midnight and took five workers' wallets and cellphones, according to the Goose Creek Police Department.
Police Capt. Dave Soderberg said Wednesday that both Wilson and Brown are felons. After one arrest, the police collected Wilson's DNA and added it to a database that the department started more than a year ago.
Brown (left), Wilson (right)
Experts from a Hilton Head Island laboratory, Intelligenetics, matched that sample to DNA found on a ski mask discarded in the nearby woods. Subsequent searches of Wilson's home also turned up valuables taken from the restaurant.
Soderberg said that developing the local database and contracting with a private company has its advantages over the State Law Enforcement Department's lab, where backlogs can delay DNA testing for weeks.
"We were able to get the bad guys off the street two days after sending the sample out," he said. "In this day and age, when witness accounts aren't as credible in the courts, DNA is a wonderful thing."
The Zaxby's had closed for the day when two armed robbers walked in and held five employees at gunpoint. As one of the gunmen frisked a worker, his gun went off and a bullet struck the employee's leg. Investigators don't know whether the shooting was intentional.
"They really took advantage of these people," Soderberg said. "They knew what they were doing, and it was terrifying for the victims."
Wilson and Brown were arrested during the first week of January, and they remained jailed without bail Wednesday.
Soderberg said that Goose Creek police officers routinely ask those arrested for DNA and that they often agree. He wasn't sure how many samples the department had gathered. He added that the database targets "10 percent of the population that commits 90 percent of the crimes" in Goose Creek.
"A lot of departments are not using this to the degree they should be," Soderberg said. "But DNA is so specific; you really can't go wrong."
ReachAndrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.
Child Safety Ideas for the Holidays and Beyond
Did You Know?
According to a research review conducted by the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council:
· CPR skills retention begins to decline within a few months after a participant is trained and progressively decreases for about a year.
· Less than half of course participants can pass a skills test one year after training.
With so much going on in your life and the life of a child, it is no wonder that CPR skills are not retained. Feedings, diaper changes, meeting new family, rescheduling all your old responsibility to fit the child's schedule - sleep - who has had a solid nights sleep this year?
It is well worth the time and effort, to review your skills and perhaps meet up with some new mommies to hear the latest buzz on child care.
For more information on a local New Jersey Infant or Child CPR class contact:
www.babyzoneandbeyond.com OR email: email@example.com
During your Child or Infant CPR refresher course, why not take the opportunity to create a Child Safety Profile for your little one. Along with birth certificate documents, marriage records, and other important identifying paperwork, a Child Safety Identification Profile is just one additional tool to safeguarding your child - using today's up to date technology of DNA profiling. A local DNA collector will come to your Infant or Child CPR class, perform a non-invasive DNA collection on your child, photograph the child and then ask for some identifying information. A week or so later you will receive a CSI Certificate that contains all of the information but most importantly the CSI certificate will contain a genetic profile using the same genetic markers as local authorities would to identify a person. Unlike the Child Fingerprint Cards which expire with a year or so of release, the CSI genetic profile lasts a lifetime. In the event of an emergency, you have a document to have over to the local authorities to help locate or identify your child.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE AFFORDABLE AND FLEXIBLE IN-HOME INFANT AND CHILD CPR and First Aid TRAINING.
WE'LL BRING THE CLASS TO YOU.
Life-saving Infant and Child CPR Classes:
Chatham Class CPR schedule :
Tuesday, December 20th at 7pm
Wednesday, January 11th at 7pm
Tuesday, January 31st at 7pm
Wednesday, February 1st at 7pm
Tuesday, February 28th at 7pm
First Aid for Infants & Children schedule:
Wednesday, January 18th at 7pm
Wednesday, March 14th at 7pm
CAN'T MAKE IT TO A CLASS?
SCHEDULE A PRIVATE IN-HOME CPR OR FIRST AID PARTY. (Evening and weekend appointments available).
Call also to schedule a class at your preschool, daycare or mom's group.
One of the most important two hour classes
you will ever take!! If you are interested in scheduling the Child Safety Identification collection at the same time as the CPR class, please contact The DNA Lady. CSI gift certificates are also available - just call 732-632-8820.
CHRISTMAS TREE SAFETY TIPS
Create a safety party and gather your family, friends, babysitters, nannies and host a class. We come to you! Makes a great gift idea! As prepared as you think you are and despite precautions, children can still get in trouble!
Here are some standard Christmas Tree Safety Tips from your local CPR trainer
1.Stand your tree away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources.
2.Make sure the tree does not block foot traffic or doorways.
3.If you use an artificial tree, choose one that tested and is labeled as fire resistant.
4.Only use indoor lights indoors and outdoor lights outdoors.
5.Check lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Replace or repair any damaged light sets.
6.Use no more than three light sets on any one extension cord. Extension cords should be placed against the wall to avoid tripping hazards, but do not run cords under rugs.
7.Turn off all lights on trees and decorations when you go to bed or leave the house.
8.Never place lighted candles on a tree or near any flammable materials. Imagine at one time we all did this!
9.Avoid placing breakable tree ornaments or ones with small, detachable parts on lower branches where small children or pets can reach them. I know my cat finds these low hanging tid bits great fun when no one is around - next morning someone inevitably steps on our precious ornament.
10.Do not hang popcorn chains and candy canes on the tree when small children are present. They may think that other tree ornaments are also edible.
Safety, Safety, Safety - it's like location, location location - always consider what is best for your child before making changes in your home or life. A CSI profile is also a good tool for loved ones who may be suffering from alzheimers or other degenerative diseases that may cause temporary loss of memory.
Funeral Homes, Medical Examiners Offices and DNA Collection
At one of the most emotional times in a person's life, they may not be thinking that a DNA sample of a deceased loved one should be collected or stored. The surviving families first thoughts are probably, what will happen to me? How will my family get through this tragedy? Are my children going to be taken care of? How will the services be paid for? What funeral home should we use? Whether the passing of a loved one is expected due to advanced age or chronic illness or if the passing of a loved one is unexpected, as in an accident or unexpected illness - the thought of taking a DNA profile of the deceased loved one is probably not part of the usual grieving process.
However, after all is said and done, families are finding that they lack documentation or paperwork in order to participate in the benefits set up by the deceased. Proof of a biological relationship whether it be between a child, parent, sibling or grandparents is easily confirmed through non-invasive DNA testing. Having access to the deceased DNA profile often becomes the obstacle in obtaining survivor benefits.
In the case, where the deceased DNA is not readily available, proof of biological relationships can be obtained via FTA Blood Stain Cards usually collected by a Medical Examiner's office. Often times, other family members may have to submit to the DNA test in order to prove the biological relationship.
A single man dies and leaves 3 children but never signed an Acknowledgement of Paternity during his lifetime. The mother of the 3 children can ask a male relative of the deceased to submit to a DNA test (which are usually non-invasive buccal swabs) and that DNA can then be compared to the surviving children in order to prove the biological relationship exists. If the children are all male - it is easier since they will carry the same Y-Chromosome.
Grandparents, aunts and uncles can be used to establish family relationships as well.
If it is known at the time of death, that proof is needed, a funeral home can arrange for a DNA collection of the deceased with permission of the next of kin. Funeral directors, managers, doctors and spiritual advisers should all be aware of the family's circumstances and if a DNA test would help them avoid delay in receiving benefits. Those closest to the deceased may not be thinking of all the details and so it is encumbent on those around the family to help and provide guidance on these issues.
Why Does it Take 240 Days?
As a local, private DNA collector and to maintain a level of expert knowledge - I monitor the activity at the local, state, national and international level of the DNA testing industry. I am always amazed at the amount of time a "State" lab takes in completing a DNA test vs. a private laboratory. In the below post, from a local Philadelphia paper - they indicate that over 500 tests went incomplete and that it took an average of 240 days turn around time to complete those DNA test that they could complete? Is that a simple DNA Profile - how many hands touched the case - from original collector - to state lab tech - to state Phd then back to collector then entry into CODIS - really 240 days. Is the perpetrator out on the streets in all that time or is he/she sitting in jail - either way out on the street - you and I are in danger - in jail and not the right perp - he/she has not been given a due justice in a speedy trial. Understandably, the standard at State labs have to be strictly followed but most of the private laboratories also have attained national and international accrediting standards - which make for accuracy and reliability as well. Hate to be a naysayer of government workers, but this DNA collector was at a recent event, with men and women who were either former law enforcement, FBI, etc., and when I asked an innocent but simple question - Why does it take the State Lab so long - after a few uncomfortable shrugs and giggles - the surprising response was - dragging out cases means job security. Not coming from the government employee mentality - I never did understand why they wouldn't do a good job because they are being paid salaries and benefits and have chosen to work for the State because they have an honest desire to protect citizens??? At this age, I am still naive! I don't picture scientists taking something so important as determining a perp's DNA - and delaying results - so that they have jobs until their desired retirement date.
On the flip side, when I work with the private AABB, CAP, CLIA, NYSDOH, ASCLD accredited labs - for simple paternity tests to the more involved forensic cases, I know that my DNA samples, paperwork, photographs are checked and doubled checked for accuracy. I know that the lab is competing with at least 25 other private laboratories who have the same accredititations and so they want to provide a product that is both reliable and accurate and more importantly, timely.
so, whether you need a simple paternity test or a genetic profile from an object at a crime scene, think of bringing in a local, private collector to at least jump start the DNA testing process - I know I would feel safer that the perp is off the street faster than 240 days!
QUOTE FROM PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
State police have said their DNA lab last year received 1924 cases and completed 1412, with an average turnaround time of 240 days. The department received 23938 samples from convicted offenders for testing, and the state now has more than 240000 ...
UNQUOTE FROM PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
Using DNA Against Stranger Danger Actions
Run out into the middle of the road, scream really nasty words, scratch as hard as you can, kick in the groin, face, stomach, bite and bite hard (keep the evidence), throw rocks and throw your books - that is what I'd would tell my kids! Oh, what a horrible thing to tell your children but picture this - someone (anyone) comes up to my children while they are waiting on a cold, rainy morning for the school bus. The bus is late only because boots, umbrellas, rain ponchos (maybe called hoodies today) all take a little extra time to allow children to settle onto the bus once boarded. But mommy or daddy have a webinar at 9am and in internet world - 9am is 9am - even in the rain. The kids have been getting on the same bus now for a few weeks - we have all settled into a school schedule. If you read the papers in the last few years - abductors are not just creepy old men - but young female teachers, young male coaching assistants, the angry mother next door or the older teenager down the block. Better to teach a protective behavior than try and figure out who harbors some weirdo behavior in mind. Check your zipcode for the number of "sex offenders" in your 10 mile area.
So someone comes up to the bus stop and offers the wet and book laden kids a ride to school - using any excuse - the bus is stuck in traffic, the bus was cancelled due to weather, I'm going to your school now - I'm the school parking attendant? - in fact, one little girl thinks she knows the person behind the wheel and so she starts on her way into the car - but my children start to throw their books, yell at the person behind the wheel, kick the car, use their umbrella as a weapon - anything that will bring attention to the person behind the wheel and alert a neighbor or a passing car. By the way, as a neighbor you should have eyes on the street as well - just because they are not your kids - the world should know that your neighborhood has extra "eyes" watching. My children will begin to run or walk in the opposite direction the car is travelling. Hopefully, their actions will scare off the person behind the wheel - because I have taught my children to not behave!
My children behave for me - when I say and what I say and who I say and how I say and why I say - they do not have to listen to any other adult - unless I have given them the "say so" and/or the circumstances warrants another adult to be in charge of the situation (police, fire, teacher, coach or older sibling, grandparent or a relative I trust.) If that is the case, my children will have been told ahead of time or will have enough insight to understand the situation- otherwise they are too young to be left alone. In the 1960s, a kid could walk the streets of Brooklyn - buy a pack of gum or a "pound of ground round" at the local butcher and not be too worried about neighbors - everyone knew everyone - your parents knew all the neighbors and all your neighbors' business and the "odd" person(s) - was easily recognized. In the summer everyone sat on the front stoop and in the winter - everyone played in each other's homes or again out in the street - how cold could it be if you were playing kick ball anyway? With Central air, backyard decks and grills - we don't really see each other - in fact I would guarantee that some in our neighborhood would not recognize their neighbor if he/she wasn't standing in their driveway - that's what we've become.
By now most parents know all about Stranger Danger - all the little suburban towns have hosted a night out where the kids get fingerprinted and get to see the inside of the police car. The sad truth is that fingerprints and dentition (those toothprints offered by your friendly family dentist) are only used on a forensic basis (when the crime has already taken place) - so we feel we have guarded our children against danger. A fingerprint, especially of a child will change over a life time, toothprints - will definitely change from year to year and possibly from month to month during the first few years of school and each of these identifying factors are only used in a crime scene - that is the crime is over and done.
Today's parents, can have their child's DNA Safeguarded so that at any time a crime scene is swiped for DNA - if your child (or loved one) goes missing - you have an accurate record of your child's DNA that you can provide to the local authorities - not a genetic profile put together 30 days after the crime from items left behind or from relatives. DNA Safeguarding is just as easy as toothprints and/or fingerprinting and does not change over a chid's lifetime.
Now that kids are back to school, there are opportunities for those "creeps" to grab a child walking home from the bus, or school alone. A child who stayed late for an extra class, a group project or an athletic event - "grabbing" is an opportunistic event - majority of child abductions are based solely on opportunity. So while we have some "creeps" who get up in the morning and try to figure out a way to capture their prey - there are those among us who may have those tendencies but have not acted on them yet - and then a rare opportunity presents itself. Remind your children to always walk in groups - don't allow another child to walk alone in front or behind the group. Be the person in the group to include everyone. Teach your children a little about inclusion - it is good for their character anyway.
Some of the types of luring that goes on, whether during the summer months when children are more likely outdoors or during the winter months, when children may be walking home from school or a project are requests for assistance, bribery with something cute and cuddly like a puppy or a kitten, something sweet to eat - even money in some cases. Fake emergencies the child doesn't know about - all of these are tools used by abductors to lure a child into feeling safe about following the actions of this person. Teach your children "code words" - perhaps related to their favorite or first toy - so that they know this person has to know the code words - even in an emergency.
DNA Safeguarding parties happen all over the "affluent" neighborhoods, but Safeguarding your Child's DNA should not be considered a luxury - rather just another step using today's most up to date technology to protect your children. Call the DNA Lady and ask about hosting a DNA Safeguarding Party More importantly is to have a discussion with your children about stranger abductions and what he or she can do to avoid such a situation.
Forensic DNA Testing brings home U.S. Marine
CBS show 48 Hours | Mystery used the expert services of a DNA testing facility in the United States to determine whether a bone sample belonged to a U.S. Marine, Mr. Earl Bourdeau. Mr. Bourdeau was presumed murdered and buried in the Philippines in 1987.
The murder mystery entitled "Conspiracy to Kill", broadcast on January 30, 2009, centered on a woman named Sonia Rios. Ms. Rios had two husbands' whose lives ended abruptly at the hands of unknown gunmen.
Families of both men had been unable to recover the remains, until the 48 Hours investigation revealed a possible burial place for Mr. Bourdeau. Mitochondrial DNA testing was used to establish a biological relationship between Dennis Bourdeau, a living sibling of Mr. Earl Bourdeau. More than 20 years after Earl left to find adventure in the Philippines, he was finally laid to rest in his hometown of Davenport, Iowa.
Mitochondrial DNA is passed down from a mother to all of her children. Y-DNA is passed from father to son only. Brothers and sisters would therefore share the same mitochondrial DNA. Mitochondrial DNA testing and Y-Chromosome testing are available to the average consumer today due in part to advances in technology and ability to collect samples via buccal swab. A fast growing hobby of many North Americans is genealogy which uses the technology of mtDNA and YDNA analyses to categorize DNA into haplogroups to determine your ancestral origins.
God Bless and Thank You to all of our Armed Services and their families for the sacrifice they are making for our country.
Using DNA to Prevent & Resolve Rape, Robbery, Sexual Assault and Death
Having Properly Accredited Private Laboratories assist authorities on DNA Collection and Analysis
In the New York and New Jersey area alone, over a period of approximately 10 years, had DNA samples been collected and analyzed by authorities more than 30 rapes, robberies, sexual assaults or deaths could have been prevented if laboratories were not backlogged, if DNA was collected and perpetrators identified after the first offense rather than after the 13th offense.
This report was prepared by Smith Alling Lane in partnership with Washington State University through the support of a grant awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (Grant 2002-LT-BX-K 003). Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the United States Department of Justice
THREE PREVENTABLE RAPES
In mid-May 1998, a woman was raped at a public library in Essex County. One month later, a second woman was raped in a library. DNA samples were taken from both cases and loaded into the DNA database, where it was discovered that the two rapes were linked. Importantly, in matching these cases to each other, DNA also excluded two men being held by police as possible suspects.
In late June of 1998, a child was abducted and raped. A DNA sample was collected and sent to a private laboratory for testing, and the victim provided a description of the attacker to police.
The police eventually identified a suspect, and DNA testing subsequently tied him to the child attack. After the sample was loaded into the state database, it was discovered that the same offender was the library rapist. Additionally, the same DNA profile was eventually matched to an October 1999 rape in New York City.
The offender had a prior felony arrest on a weapons possession charge. The charge was later reduced to a misdemeanor crime to which the offender pled guilty. If a DNA sample had been required of felony charges that result in misdemeanor convictions, the perpetrator couldhave been identified after the first rape,thereby preventing the following three rapes.
SEVEN PREVENTABLE ROBBERIES, FIVE PREVENTABLE RAPES
In October of 2002, the first in a series of ten robberies began. The incidents included seven aggravated sexual assaults, spanned four months and included victims in at least nine different New Jersey cities.
A person known to the police became a strong suspect in the first offense, and a DNA sample was collected from him four days later. A DNA match was finally made in January of 2003 to the third offense, but only after a unit commander requested expedited testing of the evidence.
The offender in question was convicted in the 1980's on federal felony robberies charges, and was released from a federal prison in 1999. Unfortunately, the federal government did not begin requiring DNA from felony robbery convictions until 2000. Moreover, law enforcement had custody of all the DNA information that they needed to arrest this offender within only a few weeks of the first offense. The omission of his DNA from the federalDNA database, along with the backlog delay in processing DNA evidence, allowed the offender to remain on the streets. With stronger federal statutes and shorter DNA testing delays, the perpetrator could have been identified after the third attack, thereby preventing
the subsequent seven robberies and five rapes.
FOUR PREVENTABLE RAPES
Between April of 2002 and May of 2003, five women were raped in the Trenton area. DNA testing linked all five offenses to the same unknown perpetrator. After police released a composite sketch of the suspect in 2003, nearly 75 tips were called in identifying the same person. In June 2003, U.S. Marshals eventually arrested the suspect in Pennsylvania on a parole violation warrant that was issued in July of 2002. Trenton Police obtained a DNA sample from the suspect through a court order, and thanks to expedited testing at the state laboratory the man was linked to the crimes within a few days. The charges on 16 counts
involving five victims are pending as the suspect awaits extradition to New Jersey from Pennsylvania.
The suspect's criminal record included two felony convictions for theft and forgery related offenses in New Jersey, and nine felony convictions for theft, forgery, and receiving stolen property in Pennsylvania. If the suspect had been required to give a DNA sample for any of these crimes in either state, he could have been identified after the first assault, thereby preventing the subsequent four rapes.
THIRTEEN PREVENTABLE RAPES
In August of 1993 a young woman was raped in the Bronx in what was to be the first of up to 51 rapes attributed to the same offender over a five-year period. The perpetrator was dubbed the "Bronx Rapist" by the media. A person known to the police became a suspect when he was identified in a transaction involving a victim's jewelry at a pawnshop. He was arrested and subsequent DNA testing linked him to several of the rapes. He has been convicted on fourteen counts of rape in the Bronx, six counts of sexual abuse, nineteen counts of robbery, and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon.He has been sentenced to two life sentences.
This offender had a prior conviction in 1989 for felony robbery and assault, for which he received a seven-year sentence. If the State of New York had begun requiring DNA from all convicted felons in 1990 this offender would have been on the DNA database prior to the first rape in 1993, and at least thirteen rapes could have been prevented. Moreover, when New York's database was established in 1994, an inclusion of all convicted felons and retroactive application to persons previously convicted but still under supervision would have captured this offender's DNA sample much earlier in the investigation.
TWO PREVENTABLE SEXUAL ASSAULTS, ONE PREVENTABLE DEATH
From 1991 to 1999, three young women were murdered in New York City and four others were raped. The youngest victim was 13, and several of the crimes were noted for their brutality. During the course of the investigation, police identified a man who had just been released from jail for a sex crime in the same area in which a victim had been raped. He had been seen in the neighborhood just before and after the rape, and was picked out of a lineup. The man was jailed for four months, but DNA testing subsequently eliminated the man as a suspect.
Another person known to the police became a suspect in these crimes in 1999 and was placed under surveillance by police. He was eventually arrested on petty theft charges and DNA testing later linked him to evidence from the crimes. This person had been released from custody pending the DNA testing, and was arrested again in Miami after the DNA match was made. He was found with a young woman who may have been his next victim. This offender was found guilty on twenty-two counts, and sentenced to 400 years in prison.
This offender had been convicted of felony robbery in 1992 at a time when New York did not collect DNA samples from criminals convicted of felony robbery. Moreover, if a 1996 expansion of the database to include robbery convictions had been applied retroactively, he could have been required to provide a DNA sample at this point. The sample would have been linked to one of the previous crimes, thereby preventing at least two sexual assaults against juveniles and one death. It is also worth noting that a sooner DNA match would have prevented an innocent man from spending four months in prison.
SEVEN PREVENTABLE RAPES AND ROBBERIES
In 2001 it was revealed that New York City had between 14,000 and 16,000 unanalyzed rape kits that were sitting in a storage rooms. Through a focused backlog reduction program, the City has been analyzing the rape kits and loading them into the state DNA database system. In 2002, two unsolved rapes that were part of the backlog reduction project were connected to the same offender. The offender's criminal history included five prior arrests which resulted in
two separate felony convictions - in 1991 for robbery and sexual abuse, and in 1997 for armed robbery. Although New York was not collecting DNA from robbery convictions in 1997, a 2000 law expanded the database to include robbery and included offenders who were still incarcerated for previous convictions. Upon release in 2001, the offender in question was required to give a DNA sample for the database.
This offender was arrested in December 2001 for a series of rapes and robberies (seven separate incidents). If the 1996 rape kits had been tested sooner, this person would have been linked to these assaults in 2001 prior to his release, thereby preventing the subsequent 7 attacks occurring after his release.
September is National Preparedness Month (NPM)
DNA Lady is a Coalition Member of NPM
September is National Preparedness Month (NPM). DNA Lady New Jersey office has registered as a coalition member of the NPM. NPM is sponsored by FEMA's Ready Campaign in partnership with Citizen Corps and the Advertising Council and is designed to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, and communities. The more prepared the public is, the stronger our emergency response team will be. DNA Lady in New Jersey is a single resource for an agency requiring identification of victims and their families through the collection of DNA samples to matching or create a genetic profile. DNA Lady obtained certification from the US Department of Labor in the Incident Command System (ICS) 200. This two day course covered the ICS organization, basic terminology and common responsibilities.
Everyone in the community has a role to play when it comes to preparing for and responding to the next disaster, whether an act of god, such as severe weather, or an act of terrorism.
FEMA's Ready Campaign asks families and businesses to do 3 things to participate in the National Preparedness Month:
- Prepare a Basic Emergency Supply Kit
- Create a Family Emergency Plan
- Know what types of Emergencies may happen in your area
The contents of the Basic Emergency Supply Kit should include:
- Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
- Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food (don't forget your pet's food as well)
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit - include prescription medication and dosage information
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, hygiene products, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities (good time to find out the source of all your utilities)
- Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers (have emergency contact numbers programmed ahead of time and label ICE)
- Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
- DNA Child Safety Identification - a genetic profile of your children and family members will expedite any post-accident identification processes
- Cash or traveler's checks and change
- Emergency reference material such as a first aid book
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
- Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
- Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper - When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
- Fire Extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
- Paper and pencil
- Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
Give this list to your children, and have them create the kit and put it in a safe place. Involving the children gives them a sense of control if an emergency arises - they know they have done something to prepare for an emergency. Make it an end of summer project. Host a CSI party (Child Safety Identification), where your local DNA collections expert collects and creates a genetic profile of the entire family.Let your local DNA expert, provide a key document to be a part of your Emergency Response Kit. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children also recommends that parents and/or legal guardians have a DNA profile of their children, in case of emergency. DNA profiles are the gold standard in human identification, today.
Family Emergency Plan
- Identify an out-of town contact.It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members. (during 9/11, many will remember that we could not contact local family in New York and New Jersey, but could easily make a call out to the Midwest or South Atlantic)
- Be sure every member of your family knows the phone number and has a cell phone, coins, or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact. If you have a cell phone, program that person(s) as "ICE" (In Case of Emergency) in your phone.
- Teach family members how to use text messaging. Text messages can often get around network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through.
- Subscribe to alert services. Many communities now have systems that will send instant text alerts or e-mails to let you know about bad weather, road closings, local emergencies, etc. For example, know the url of your local town's emergency response system - you can sign up ahead of time for messages.
- Emergency Messaging
Planning to Stay or Go
Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the emergency, the first important decision is whether you stay where you are or evacuate. You should understand and plan for both possibilities. Use common sense and available information, including what you are learning here, to determine if there is an immediate danger. In any emergency, local authorities may or may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for information or official instruction as it becomes available.
Find out what kinds of disasters, both natural and man-made, are most likely to occur in your area and how you will be notified. Methods of getting your attention vary from community to community. One common method is to broadcast via emergency radio and TV broadcasts. You might hear a special siren, or get a telephone call, or emergency workers may go door-to-door - make sure they are fully identified before you open your door.
DNA Lady is a community based DNA collections facility. Our DNA tests are performed by an AABB, CAP, CLIA, ASCLD, NYSDOH, FQS-I/ISO IEC 17025 accredited laboratory. All tests are performed twice for accuracy and reliability. Results are reviewed by a Ph.d and notarized. Email the DNA Lady if you have any questions regarding DNA collections.
Forensic DNA Evidence backlogged in most States
Below is an excerpt from a National Institute of Justice funded research project on the status of testing forensic DNA evidence
for criminal cases in the United States. A report
published by CBS News last week found thousands of rape kits
untested in jurisdictions across the country. Although New Jersey was not listed as a state who participated or responded to the CBS investigation, our neighbors in New York and Pennsylvania stated that every rape kit submitted has been tested while jurisdictions in Florida freely admit "they don't know how many tested or untested kits they have in storage." Why not ship these out to a private DNA laboratory
and get the evidence at least profiled and analyzed. Even if the victim has rescinded his/her report, the profile may help resolve other "unrelated" crimes by the same perpetrator. ***Read the DNA Lady's previous entry on unnecessary rapes or crimes that happened in the passed 10 years because of backlogged DNA evidence.*** Nationwide, 14 percent of
open homicide cases and 18 percent of open rape cases contain forensic
evidence that has not been sent to a crime lab for analysis, according
to the study conducted by RTI International for the Office of Justice
Programs' National Institute of Justice.
The national survey of
more than 2,000 state and local police agencies also found that fewer
than half of police departments (43 percent) have computerized systems
in place for tracking forensic evidence inventory.
Among the reasons cited for not submitting forensic evidence for analysis were:
- 44 percent reported that evidence is not submitted for analysis unless a suspect has been identified *** majority of offenders are not first time - a state may have a previous DNA profile already in a database - submitting the new evidence for analysis may help to identify the perpetrator ****
- 15 percent of law enforcement agencies reported that they may
not submit forensic evidence to a lab if the analysis was not requested
by a prosecutor
- 11 percent said they did not submit evidence because
they felt the lab was not able to produce timely results *** private & accredited DNA testing labs offer turn around times of as little as 4- 6 weeks on forensic DNA analysis with RUSH options available ***
The survey also revealed that evidence retention policies and practices also varied widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction even with States. Private laboratories hold certain accreditations which force them to handle all forensic evidence in the same manner - should not state facilities be required to adhere to the same standards?
Update to Child Safety Identification Entry
The DNA Lady
just performed another free search on the Family Watchdog site. The following zipcodes were entered for a listing of registered sex offenders. As we get closer to Halloween, please remember to safeguard your ghouls and goblins. Always send children out in groups preferably with a parent, never allow children to enter homes or apartment building and always check their bag of treats.
07001 - Avenue, NJ 9 Registered Sex Offenders
08901 - New Brunswick, NJ 30 Registered Sex Offenders
08861 - Perth Amboy, NJ 18 Registered Sex Offenders
08863 - Fords, NJ 4 Registered Sex Offenders
07067 - Colonia, NJ 1 Registered Sex Offenders
08854 - Piscataway, NJ 4 Registered Sex Offenders
07102 - Newark, NJ 31 Registered Sex Offenders
07306 - Jersey City, NJ 25 Registered Sex Offenders
This is just a short list. Go to the site and enter your own zipcode and obtain more information on these offenders. Most crimes are committed within a "comfort" zone of the perpetrator. Check archived entries of the DNA Lady's
blog for listings of Registered Sex Offenders in your neighborhood. Let's stop the "not on my block thinking" and safeguard our children from these perpetrators. Host a CSI Party and earn $$$ for the holidays or a free DNA profile of your child.
Give a CSI Gift Certificate and safeguard the children in your life
or come in and have your child's DNA profile painlessly taken as a measure of safety using today's most up to date technology.
A parent or legal guardian must be present for all minor children. A certificate with your child's DNA profile, digital photograph and relevant information that may be asked by an authority at the time of emergency are included.
We encourage parents and legal guardians to participate in your local municipalities "Stranger Danger" exercises but offer DNA Safeguarding as a unique and 21st method to secure your children.
Forensic DNA Evidence
Forensic DNA Evidence
Recent advancements in DNA Technology
are enabling law enforcement officers to solve cases previously thought to be unsolvable. Today, law enforcement with a knowledge of how to identify, preserve and collect DNA evidence properly can solve cases in ways previously only seen on TV. Much the way Trekkies
envision a futuristic world of beaming molecules from one surface to another - law enforcement envisions the use of DNA evidence solving crimes faster, more reliably and more frequently than heretofore methods of fingerprinting, eye witness and the old fashioned "gum-shoe" work ethic of eras gone by.
Because of the uniqueness of each person's DNA, evidence collected
at a crime scene can either link a suspect to a crime or eliminate a suspect. Further, whether blood, saliva or skins cells are collected - a person's DNA is the same throughout. DNA evidence can also identify a victim or suspect through samples obtained from relatives even when no body can be found. Crimes scenes can be compared across a State or Country and the same perpetrator identified if his/her DNA is present.
Forensically valuable DNA samples can be found on evidence that is decades old. However, several factors can degrade the viability of the sample including but not limited to heat, sunlight, moisture, bacteria or mold. DNA is found is blood, semen, skin cells, tissue, organs, muscle, brain cells, bone, teeth, hair, saliva, mucus, perspiration, fingernails, urine and feces - although most labs are loath to be testing feces looking for viable DNA samples and some of the private labs have discontinued offering such services.
Creative crime scene investigators can collect DNA evidence from non-traditional sources, such as saliva on cigarette butts or soda cans, sweat on baseball bats or a similar weapon, sweat inside a hat, bandanna or mask discarded at a crime scene, bite mark's containing saliva from the perpetrator, scrapings from underneath a fingernail (this we have all seen on TV shows like Law & Order or CSI). Today's crime scene detective has to visualize the crime and discern where and when DNA samples were transferred during the commission of a crime from perpetrator to victim; from perpetrator to scene surface etc., DNA profiles
of those involved in the crime scene investigation
(other than the perpetrator and/or victim) should be provided to the lab in order to eliminate possible contamination to evidence.DNA collectors
, laboratory personnel, lawyers and investigators should work as a cohesive unit to determine the most probative pieces of evidence and to establish priorities. Most state DNA laboratories are backlogged with evidence yet to be analyzed; however, there are many accredited and reliable private DNA laboratories
that can be utilized in DNA detection and profiling.
Since biological material (DNA evidence) may contain hazardous pathogens such as HIV or Hepatitis B or the most recent H1B1 flu, care must be taken when collecting and/or handling samples. Given the nature of DNA evidence, officers should always contact a local DNA expert
for answers about evidence collection.
Every State in the Nation has or is implementing a DNA index of individuals convicted of certain crimes - usually felonies (BARRMS + K - thanks to my college Criminal Justice professor). Upon conviction, the DNA sample is analysed and profiled and entered into a DNA Database. Just as fingerprints found at a crime scene can be run through AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) in search of a suspect or link to another crime scene, DNA profiles from a crime scene can be entered into CODIS enabling law enforcement officers to identify possible suspects when no suspect or lead existed.
Defense Attorney Contesting DNA Evidence
Forensic DNA analysis technology has improved since the mid-1980s. Technology has advance from a method that was often contested to today's Polymerase Chain Reaction - Short Terminal Reports (PCR-STR)
analysis. PCR-STR analysis has been determined admissible in almost every State. Defense attorneys should consult with an expert in the field of DNA collection and analysis. The DNA expert can prepare challenges against how the DNA evidence was collected, packaged, documented and transported to the laboratory. Did the lab technician have the experience and knowledge necessary to properly perform the test and do the statistical analysis? Is his/her conclusion properly supported by scientific evidence. Issues such as contamination, additional analysis and chain of custody can be used to create a doubt about the prosecutor's case. The DNA expert should be able to convey to the jurors the complexity of the science behind DNA analysis.
Forensic DNA laboratories
can help you or your clients with issues relating to:
Criminal Matters, including murder or burglarySexual Assault
Re-testing of State's Evidence
Auto accident and other fraud investigations
Drug Test sample confirmations (non-DOT)