: News

Va. Forensic Department Will Study Controversial DNA Testing Technique

Play associated audio

By Jonathan Wilson

Virginia's Forensic Science Board has decided to study, but not yet implement, familial DNA testing, a technique that can identify relatives of a criminal suspect.

It's a controversial practice, currently used in only two other states.

Familial DNA testing lets law enforcement narrow investigations by using partial DNA matches to identify relatives of a possible suspect within the criminal database.

The technique has been used successfully in Colorado and in California, where authorities used it to find a suspect in the "Grim Sleeper" serial killings last month.

Mitch Morrissey is the district attorney for Denver, Colorado, and says familial DNA testing could help solve the case of the "East Coast Rapist," a man police believe has been attacking women for at least the past 13 years, many in Northern Virginia.

"And of the states this man has attacked, 19 different victims, 4 different states: Virginia is the state that has the largest database," says Morrissey.

Stephen Mercer is an attorney with the Maryland Public Defender's office. He says just because a technique can help solve crimes doesn't mean police should use it.

"Warrant-less searches of houses would solve many crimes, serious crimes included," he says.

Maryland is the only state to explicitly outlaw familial DNA testing, legislators cite privacy concerns.

NPR

Musicians 'Let It All Out' At MTV's Video Music Awards

Complex magazine writer Alex Gale talks about the more than 30-year history and previews what to expect for Sunday night's Video Music Awards on MTV.
NPR

Japan's Centuries-Old Tradition Of Making Soba Noodles

In the remote mountains of the Japanese island of Shikoku, an old woman makes soba noodles by hand from locally grown buckwheat. It's ancient technique that is adapting to modern times.
NPR

Impeachment Trial Begins For Suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff

The impeachment trial for suspended president of Brazil Dilma Rousseff has begun. She is scheduled to testify before the Senate Monday.
NPR

A Hero For The Arts And Sciences: Upcoming Marvel Covers Promote STEAM Fields

The five covers feature the company's heroes — including Spiderman, Iron Man, and the Hulk — all engaging in activities educators have been trying to promote.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.