Archive for the ‘Crime Scenes’ Category

 

Can you determine race from a fingerprint?

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

For years, forensic scientists have studied differences between latent fingerprints and have used this information to identify unique patterns. Now, a new study takes a closer look at the minutiae of fingerprints and has come to an astounding conclusion: latent prints can provide clues to a person’s race.

The study in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology takes a new anthropological angle on a key identification method which may hold promise for law enforcement – and which has already attracted attention from several agencies, according to the researchers from North Carolina State University.

“By studying variation between groups, such as sexes and ancestry groups, on the basis of minutiae, this study provides information that is useful to latent fingerprint examiners,” said Nichole Fournier, lead author of the study, in an email to Forensic Magazine. “The results show that minutiae can tell us the probable ancestry of a person who leaves behind a latent fingerprint.”

The right index fingers of 243 individuals – split equally by gender, and between African-American and European-American backgrounds – were analyzed in the study. Level 1 details are pattern types and ridge counts.

But researchers focused on the Level 2 differences, which include bifurcations, where the ridge splits. These more-detailed factors were cross-referenced against the group’s identities. Gender did not result in significant differences in the prints – but race did, the scientists found.

“This is the first study to look at this issue at this level of detail, and the findings are extremely promising,” said Ann Ross, a North Carolina State professor of anthropology and the senior author of the study.

“But more work needs to be done,” Ross added. “We need to look at a much-larger sample size and evaluate individuals from more diverse ancestral backgrounds.”

The work, in part, answers the call of a scathing 2009 National Academy of Sciences report which called for further scientific research into forensic evidence collection and analysis, Fournier said. Fingerprints were one of the disciplines which were singled out in that report.

“Our study was in response to that call to action,” said Fournier.

Previous work by anthropologists had not been relevant to forensics because pattern type is not a trait used in fingerprint comparisons to identify latent prints at crime scenes, she added.

But now a more-complete picture of fingerprints could be coming into focus, Fournier said.

“This information is valuable evidence to corroborate the conclusion of a match based on a point-by-point comparison by a latent fingerprint examiner,” she said.

Other recent fingerprint advances have used mass spectrometry to hone in on trace amounts of material on the fingerprint, including narcotics, or hormones which could indicate gender. But they have not focused on the print pattern itself.

SOURCE: This article was first published by Forensic Magazine on 29 September 2015

DNA Detective Prof Valerie Corfield explaining DNA technology

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

Our very own and the original ‘DNA Detective’ Prof Valerie Corfield explains how applications of DNA technology are used to solve crimes in the following video created by the Public Understanding of Biotechnology (PUB) as part of a series on basic biotechnology.

SAPS Forensic Services: Available Posts – August 2015

Monday, August 24th, 2015

New posts within the South African Police Service (SAPS) Forensic Services Division, under the Public Service Act, have been added to their website and are currently being advertised for August 2015http://www.saps.gov.za/careers/careers.php.

CLOSING DATE for all applications: 04 September 2015

PUBLIC SERVICE ACT POSTS

Click here to read the application process in terms of the Public Service Act.

Please download the full advertisement for all the new Public Service Act posts, including full requirements, core responsibilities, salary level and how to apply (PDF).

Download the official application form from the SAPS website.

The following posts are available:

FORENSIC SCIENCE LABORATORY

1. Post Title: Warrant Officer
Discipline: Case Reception and Registration
Component: Forensic Science Laboratory
Location of the post: Silverton: Pretoria (3 Posts) (Ref FS 700/2015)

2. Post Title: Warrant Officer
Discipline: Exhibit Management
Component: Forensic Science Laboratory
Location of the post: Silverton: Pretoria (2 Posts) (Ref FS 701/2015)

3. Post: Warrant Officer
Discipline: Case Management
Component: Forensic Science Laboratory
Location of the post:

  • Ballistics Section: Pretoria (2 Posts) (Ref FS 702/2015)
  • Scientific Analysis Section: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 703/2015)
  • Chemistry Section: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 704/2015)
  • Amanzimtoti: Kwazulu-Natal (3 Posts) (Ref FS 705/2015)
  • Plattekloof: Western Cape (6 Posts) (Ref FS 706/2015)

4. Post: Warrant Officer
Discipline: CCTV Operators: Supply Chain Management
Section: Nodal Support
Component: Forensic Science Laboratory
Location of the post:

  • Silverton: Pretoria (4 Posts) (Ref FS 707/2015)
  • Arcadia: Pretoria (4 Posts) (Ref FS 708/2015)
  • Piet Joubert Building: Pretoria (3 Posts) (Ref FS 709/2015)
  • Amanzimtoti: Kwazulu-Natal (6 Posts) (Ref FS 710/2015)
  • Port Elizabeth: Eastern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 711/2015)
  • Plattekloof: Western Cape (4 Posts) (Ref FS 712/2015)

Component: Criminal Record and Crime Scene Management
Location of the post:

  • Bothongo Plaza: Pretoria (4 Posts) (Ref FS 713/2015)
  • Local Criminal Record Centre: Witbank (2 Posts) (Ref FS 714/2015)

5. Post: Forensic Analyst (Warrant Officer)
Discipline: IBIS
Section: Ballistics
Component: Forensic Science Laboratory
Location of the post: Silverton: Pretoria (2 Posts) (Ref FS 715/2015)

6. Post Title: Forensic Analyst (Warrant Officer)
Discipline: Ballistics Analysis
Component: Forensic Science Laboratory
Location of the post:

  • Silverton: Pretoria (5 Posts) (Ref FS 716/2015)
  • Port Elizabeth: Eastern Cape (2 Posts) (Ref FS 717/2015)
  • Amanzimtoti: Kwazulu-Natal (6 Posts) (Ref FS 718/2015)
  • Plattekloof: Western Cape (2 Posts) (Ref FS 719/2015)

7. Post Title: Forensic Analyst (Warrant Officer)
Sub-Section: Mechanical & Metallurgical Engineering
Section: Regional Laboratory: Western Cape
Component: Forensic Science Laboratory
Location of the post: Plattekloof: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 720/2015)

8. Post Title: Forensic Analyst (Warrant Officer)
Discipline: DNA Analysis
Component: Forensic Science Laboratory
Location of the post:

  • Arcadia: Pretoria (30 Posts) (Ref FS 721/2015)
  • Port Elizabeth: Eastern Cape (10 Posts) (Ref FS 722/2015)
  • Amanzimtoti: Kwazulu-Natal (5 Posts) (Ref FS 723/2015)
  • Plattekloof: Western Cape (2 Posts) (Ref FS 724/2015)

9. Post Title: Warrant Officer
Discipline: Archiving: Archives and Disposals
Section: Chemistry
Component: Forensic Science Laboratory
Location of the post: Silverton: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 725/2015)

10.  Post Title: Forensic Analyst (Warrant Officer)
Sub-Section: Drugs General: Chemical Analysis
Section: Chemistry
Component: Forensic Science Laboratory
Location of the post:

  • Silverton: Pretoria (3 Posts) (Ref FS 726/2015)
  • Port Elizabeth: Eastern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 727/2015)
  • Plattekloof: Western Cape (11 Posts) (Ref FS 728/2015)

11. Post Title: Forensic Analyst (Warrant Officer)
Discipline: Fire Investigation: Chemistry Investigation
Component: Forensic Science Laboratory
Location of the post:

  • Silverton: Pretoria (4 Posts) (Ref FS 729/2015)
  • Port Elizabeth: Eastern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 730/2015)

12. Post Title: Forensic Analyst (Warrant Officer)
Sub Section: Environmental Crimes: Material Analysis
Section: Scientific Analysis
Component: Forensic Science Laboratory
Location of the post: Silverton: Pretoria (6 Posts) (Ref FS 731/2015)

13. Post Title: Forensic Analyst (Warrant Officer)
Sub Section: Image Analysis: Scientific Analysis
Section: Regional Laboratory: Western Cape
Component: Forensic Science Laboratory
Location of the post: Plattekloof: Western Cape (2 Posts) (Ref FS 732/2015)

14. Post Title: Forensic Analyst (Warrant Officer)
Discipline: Questioned Document Analysis
Component: Forensic Science Laboratory
Location of the post:

  • Piet Joubert Building: Pretoria (3 Posts) (Ref FS 733/2015)
  • Port Elizabeth: Eastern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 734/2015)
  • Amanzimtoti: Kwazulu-Natal (1 Post) (Ref FS 735/2015)
  • Plattekloof: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 736/2015)

15. Post Title: Forensic Analyst (Warrant Officer)
Sub-Section: Ante Mortem Facilitation
Section: Victim Identification Centre
Component: Forensic Science Laboratory
Location of the post:

  • Pretoria (4 Posts) (Ref FS 737/2015)
  • Plattekloof: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 738/2015)

16. Post: Forensic Analyst (Warrant Officer)
Sub Section: Post Mortem Facilitation: Crime Scene & Victim Recovery
Section: Victim Identification Centre
Component: Forensic Science Laboratory
Location of the post:

  • Pretoria (4 Posts) (Ref FS 739/2015)
  • Plattekloof: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 740/2015)

17. Post: Forensic Analyst (Warrant Officer)
Discipline: Forensic Anthropology: Specialized Identification Services
Component: Forensic Science Laboratory
Location of the post:

  • Pretoria (2 Posts) (Ref FS 741/2015)
  • Plattekloof: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 742/2015)

18. Post: Forensic Analyst (Warrant Officer)
Sub Section: Facial Reconstruction: Specialized Identification Services
Section: Victim Identification Centre
Component: Forensic Science Laboratory
Location of the post: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 743/2015)

19. Post: Forensic Analyst (Warrant Officer)
Sub Section: Forensic Entomology: Specialized Identification Services
Section: Victim Identification Centre
Component: Forensic Science Laboratory
Location of the post: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 744/2015)

CRIMINAL RECORD & CRIME SCENE MANAGEMENT:

20. Post Title: Forensic Analyst (Warrant Officer)
Discipline: Crime Scene Laboratory
Component: Criminal Record & Crime Scene Management
Location of the post:

  • Makhado: Limpopo (2 Posts) (Ref FS 745/2015)
  • Ermelo: Mpumalanga (1 Post) (Ref FS 746/2015)
  • Bellville: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 747/2015)
  • Cape Town: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 748/2015)
  • Mitchells Plain: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 749/2015)
  • Oudtshoorn: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 750/2015)
  • Jeffreysbay: Eastern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 751/2015)
  • King Williamstown: Eastern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 752/2015)
  • Mthatha: Eastern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 753/2015)
  • Mount Road: Eastern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 754/2015)

21. Post Title: Warrant Officer
Sub-Section: Police Clearance: Criminal Information Centre
Section: Centralized CRC
Component: Criminal Record & Crime Scene Management
Location of the post: National Office: Pretoria (4 Posts) (Ref FS 755/2015)

22. Post Title: Warrant Officer
Sub-Section: Record Tracing
Section: Centralized CRC
Component: Criminal Record & Crime Scene Management
Location of the post: National Office: Pretoria (4 Posts) (Ref FS 756/2015)

23. Post Title: Warrant Officer
Sub-Section: Electronic Archiving: Archives
Section: Criminalistic Bureau
Component: Criminal Record & Crime Scene Management
Location of the post: National Office: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 757/2015)

24. Post Title: Warrant Officer
Sub-Section: AFIS Coordination: Fingerprint Database Management
Section: Criminalistic Bureau
Component: Criminal Record & Crime Scene Management
Location of the post: National Office: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 758/2015)

25. Post Title: Warrant Officer
Sub-Section: FIPS Coordination: Adjudication & Expungement
Section: Criminalistic Bureau
Component: Criminal Record & Crime Scene Management
Location of the post: National Office:: Pretoria (2 Posts) (Ref FS 759/2015)

26. Post Title: Warrant Officer
Discipline: Crime Scene Investigation
Component: Criminal Record & Crime Scene Management
Location of the post:  Provincial CR & CSM:

  • Bloemfontein: Free State (2 Posts) (Ref FS 760/2015)
  • Johannesburg: Gauteng (1 Post) (Ref FS 761/2015)
  • Potchefstroom: North West (2 Posts) (Ref FS 762/2015)

27. Post Title: Warrant Officer
Sub-Section: Priority Crime Investigation
Discipline: Crime Scene Investigation
Component: Criminal Record & Crime Scene Management
Location of the post: National Office: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 763/2015)

28. Post Title: Warrant Officer
Sub-Section: Priority Crime Investigation
Discipline: Crime Scene Investigation
Component: Criminal Record & Crime Scene Management
Location of the post: National Office: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 764/2015)

29. Post Title: Warrant Officer
Discipline: Crime Scene Investigation
Component: Criminal Record & Crime Scene Management
Location of the post:
National Office:

  • Pretoria (2 posts) (Ref FS 765/2015)

Eastern Cape Province:

  • Cradock (1 Post) (Ref FS 766/2015)
  • East London (3 Posts) (Ref FS 767/2015)
  • Grahamstown (2 Posts) (Ref FS 768/2015)
  • Uitenhage (3 Posts) (Ref FS 769/2015)
  • Mthatha (3 Posts) (Ref FS 770/2015)
  • Mount Road (3 Posts) (Ref FS 771/2015)

Free State Province:

  • Park Road (5 Posts) (Ref FS 772/2015)
  • Welkom (3 Posts) (Ref FS 773/2015)
  • Selosesha (1 Post) (Ref FS 774/2015)
  • Kroonstad (1 Post) (Ref FS 775/2015)

Gauteng Province:

  • Ga-Rankuwa (6 Posts) (Ref FS 776/2015)
  • Kempton Park (4 Posts) (Ref FS 777/2015)
  • Pretoria North (2 Posts) (Ref FS 778/2015)
  • Vereeniging (2 Posts) (Ref FS 779/2015)
  • Johannesburg (2 Posts) (Ref FS 780/2015)
  • Krugersdorp (2 Posts) (Ref FS 781/2015)

KwaZulu Natal Province:

  • Durban (4 Posts) (Ref FS 782/2015)
  • Kokstad (2 Posts) (Ref FS 783/2015)
  • Ladysmith (3 Posts) (Ref FS 784/2015)
  • Mtubatuba (1 Post) (Ref FS 785/2015)
  • Newcastle (1 Post) (Ref FS 786/2015)
  • Nqutu (2 Posts) (Ref FS 787/2015)
  • Pietermaritzburg (2 Posts) (Ref FS 788/2015)
  • Port Shepstone (1 Post) (Ref FS 789/2015)
  • Richards Bay (1 Post) (Ref FS 790/2015)
  • Ulundi (2 Posts) (Ref FS 791/2015)
  • Vryheid (1 Post) (Ref FS 792/2015)

Limpopo Province:

  • Groblersdal (2 Posts) (Ref FS 793/2015)
  • Lebowakgomo (2 Posts) (Ref FS 794/2015)
  • Lephalale (1 Post) (Ref FS 795/2015)
  • Modimolle (1 Post) (Ref FS 796/2015)
  • Musina (2 Posts) (Ref FS 797/2015)
  • Thohoyandou (2 Posts) (Ref FS 798/2015)
  • Tzaneen (4 Posts) (Ref FS 799/2015)

Mpumalanga Province:

  • Nelspruit (2 Posts) (Ref FS 800/2015)
  • Witbank (3 Posts) (Ref FS 801/2015)
  • Secunda (1 Post) (Ref FS 802/2015)
  • Ermelo (2 Posts) (Ref FS 803/2015)
  • Lydenburg (2 Posts) (Ref FS 804/2015)
  • Acornhoek (1 Post) (Ref FS 805/2015)
  • Elukwatini (2 Posts) (Ref FS 806/2015)

North West Province:

  • Rustenburg (5 Posts) (Ref FS 807/2015)
  • Brits (4 Posts) (Ref FS 808/2015)
  • Vryburg (1 Post) (Ref FS 809/2015)
  • Mmabatho (3 Posts) (Ref FS 812/2015)
  • Potchefstroom (2 Posts) (Ref FS 813/2015)
  • Klerksdorp (2 Posts) (Ref FS 810/2015)
  • Lichtenburg (2 Posts) (Ref FS 811/2015)

Northern Cape Province:

  • Kimberley (2 Posts) (Ref FS 814/2015)
  • Upington (4 Posts) (Ref FS 815/2015)
  • Kuruman (2 Posts) (Ref FS 816/2015)
  • Kakamas (2 Posts) (Ref FS 817/2015)
  • Calvinia (1 Post) (Ref FS 818/2015)

Western Cape Province:

  • Bellville (2 Posts) (Ref FS 819/2015)
  • Cape Town (2 Posts) (Ref FS 820/2015)
  • Mitchells Plain (2 Posts) (Ref FS 821/2015)
  • George (1 Post) (Ref FS 822/2015)
  • Paarl (1 Post) (Ref FS 823/2015)
  • Somerset West (1 Post) (Ref FS 824/2015)
  • Vredenburg (1 Post) (Ref FS 825/2015)
  • Worcester (1 Post) (Ref FS 826/2015)
  • Oudtshoorn (1 Post) (Ref FS 827/2015)
  • Vredendal (1 Post) (Ref FS 828/2015)

30. Post Title: Warrant Officer
Discipline: Criminalistic Bureau
Component: Criminal Record & Crime Scene Management
Location of the post:
Eastern Cape Province:

  • Aliwal North (1 Post) (Ref FS 829/2015)
  • Cradock (1 Post) (Ref FS 830/2015)
  • East London (1 Post) (Ref FS 831/2015)
  • Graaff-Reinet (1 Post) (Ref FS 832/2015)
  • Grahamstown (1 Post) (Ref FS 833/2015)
  • Jeffreysbay (1 Post) (Ref FS 834/2015)
  • King William’s Town (1 Post) (Ref FS 835/2015)
  • Middelburg (1 Post) (Ref FS 836/2015)
  • Queenstown (1 Post) (Ref FS 837/2015)
  • Uitenhage (1 Post) (Ref FS 838/2015)
  • Mthatha (1 Post) (Ref FS 839/2015)
  • Mount Road (1 Post) (Ref FS 840/2015)

Free State Province:

  • Park Road (1 Post) (Ref FS 841/2015)
  • Welkom (1 Post) (Ref FS 842/2015)
  • Kroonstad (1 Post) (Ref FS 843/2015)
  • Bethlehem (1 Post) (Ref FS 844/2015)
  • Phudatjithaba (1 Post) (Ref FS 845/2015)
  • Zamdela (1 Post) (Ref FS 846/2015)
  • Selosesha (1 Post) (Ref FS 847/2015)

KwaZulu Natal Province:

  • Durban (2 Posts) (Ref FS 848/2015)
  • Kokstad (1 Post) (Ref FS 849/2015)
  • Ladysmith (2 Posts) (Ref FS 850/2015)
  • Newcastle (1 Post) (Ref FS 851/2015)
  • Pietermaritzburg (1 Post) (Ref FS 852/2015)
  • Port Shepstone (1 Post) (Ref FS 853/2015)
  • Richards Bay (1 Post) (Ref FS 854/2015)
  • Vryheid (1 Post) (Ref FS 855/2015)

Limpopo Province:

  • Polokwane (1 Post) (Ref FS 856/2015)
  • Giyani (1 Post) (Ref FS 857/2015)
  • Lebowakgomo (1 Post) (Ref FS 858/2015)
  • Lephalale (1 Post) (Ref FS 859/2015)
  • Makhado (1 Post) (Ref FS 860/2015)
  • Modimolle (1 Post) (Ref FS 861/2015)
  • Mokopane (1 Post) (Ref FS 862/2015)
  • Musina (1 Post) (Ref FS 863/2015)
  • Phalalborwa (1 Post) (Ref FS 864/2015)
  • Thabazimbi (1 Post) (Ref FS 865/2015)
  • Thohoyandou (1 Post) (Ref FS 866/2015)
  • Tzaneen (1 Post) (Ref FS 867/2015)

Mpumalanga Province:

  • Middelburg (1 Post) (Ref FS 868/2015)
  • Nelspruit (1 Post) (Ref FS 869/2015)
  • Witbank (1 Post) (Ref FS 870/2015)
  • Kwamahlanga (1 Post) (Ref FS 871/2015)
  • Secunda (1 Post) (Ref FS 872/2015)
  • Ermelo (1 Post) (Ref FS 873/2015)

North West Province:

  • Potchefstroom (1 Post) (Ref FS 874/2015)
  • Pudimoe (1 Post) (Ref FS 875/2015)
  • Brits (1 Post) (Ref FS 876/2015)
  • Vryburg (1 Post) (Ref FS 877/2015)
  • Klerksdorp (1 Post) (Ref FS 878/2015)
  • Lichtenburg (1 Post) (Ref FS 879/2015)
  • Mmabatho (1 Post) (Ref FS 880/2015)
  • Provincial CR & CSM: Potchefstroom (1 Post) (Ref FS 881/2015)

Northern Cape Province:

  • Provincial CR & CSM: Kimberley (2 Posts) (Ref FS 882/2015)
  • Kimberley (2 Posts) (Ref FS 883/2015)
  • Upington (2 Posts) (Ref FS 884/2015)
  • Kuruman (2 Posts) (Ref FS 885/2015)

Western Cape Province:

  • Provincial CR & CSM: Cape Town (2 Posts) (Ref FS 886/2015)
  • Bellville (1 Post) (Ref FS 887/2015)
  • Cape Town (1 Post) (Ref FS 888/2015)
  • Mitchells Plain (1 Post) (Ref FS 889/2015)
  • George (1 Post) (Ref FS 890/2015)
  • Paarl (1 Post) (Ref FS 891/2015)
  • Somerset West (1 Post) (Ref FS 892/2015)
  • Vredenburg (1 Post) (Ref FS 893/2015)
  • Worcester (1 Post) (Ref FS 894/2015)
  • Beaufort West (1 Post) (Ref FS 895/2015)

31. Post: Forensic Analyst (Warrant Officer)
Sub-Section: Facial Identification: Crime Scene Investigation
Component: Criminal Record and Crime Scene Management
Location of the post:

  • Modimolle: Limpopo (1 Post) (Ref FS 896/2015)
  • Thohoyandou: Limpopo (1 Post) (Ref FS 897/2015)

32. Post: Forensic Analyst (Warrant Officer)
Discipline: Environmental Compliance
Component: Quality Management
Location of the post:

  • Questioned Documents: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 898/2015)
  • Chemistry: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 899/2015)
  • Ballistics: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 900/2015)
  • Crime Scene Management: National Office: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 901/2015)

33. Post: Forensic Analyst (Warrant Officer)
Discipline: Quality Assurance
Component: Quality Management
Location of the post:

  • Arcadia: Pretoria (2 Posts) (Ref FS 902/2015)
  • Ballistics: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 903/2015)
  • Criminalistic Bureau: National Office: Pretoria (2 Posts) (Ref FS 904/2015)
  • Crime Scene Management: National Office: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 905/2015)
  • Explosives: National Office: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 906/2015)

Provincial Criminal Record and Crime Scene Management:

  • King William’s Town: Eastern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 907/2015)
  • Bloemfontein: Free State (1 Post) (Ref FS 908/2015)
  • Johannesburg: Gauteng (1 Post) (Ref FS 909/2015)
  • Durban: KwaZulu Natal (1 Post) (Ref FS 910/2015)
  • Polokwane: Limpopo (1 Post) (Ref FS 911/2015)
  • Middelburg: Mpumalanga (1 Post) (Ref FS 912/2015)
  • Potchefstroom: North West (1 Post) (Ref FS 913/2015)
  • Cape Town: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 914/2015)

34. Post: Forensic Analyst (Warrant Officer)
Discipline: Quality Control
Component: Quality Management
Location of the post:

  • Crime Scene Laboratories: National Office: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 915/2015)
  • Crime Scene Management: National Office: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 916/2015)

Provincial Criminal Record and Crime Scene Management:

  • King William’s Town: Eastern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 917/2015)
  • Bloemfontein: Free State (1 Post) (Ref FS 918/2015)
  • Johannesburg: Gauteng (1 Post) (Ref FS 919/2015)
  • Durban: KwaZulu Natal (1 Post) (Ref FS 920/2015)
  • Polokwane: Limpopo (1 Post) (Ref FS 921/2015)
  • Middelburg: Mpumalanga (1 Post) (Ref FS 922/2015)
  • Kimberly: Northern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 923/2015)
  • Potchefstroom: North West (1 Post) (Ref FS 924/2015)
  • Cape Town: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 925/2015)

Regional Laboratory:

  • Biology: Amanzimtoti: KwaZulu Natal (1 Post) (Ref FS 926/2015)
  • Chemistry: Amanzimtoti: KwaZulu Natal (1 Post) (Ref FS 927/2015)
  • Ballistics: Amanzimtoti: KwaZulu Natal (1 Post) (Ref FS 928/2015)
  • Questioned Documents: Amanzimtoti: KwaZulu Natal (1 Post) (Ref FS 929/2015)
  • Biology: Port Elizabeth: Eastern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 930/2015)
  • Chemistry: Port Elizabeth: Eastern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 931/2015)
  • Biology: Plattekloof: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 932/2015)
  • Chemistry: Plattekloof: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 933/2015)
  • Ballistics: Plattekloof: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 934/2015)
  • Questioned Documents: Plattekloof: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 935/2015)

35. Post: Forensic Analyst (Warrant Officer)
Discipline: Technical Management
Component: Quality Management
Location of the post:

  • Chemistry: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 936/2015)
  • Biology: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 937/2015)
  • Ballistics: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 938/2015)
  • Scientific Analysis: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 939/2015)

Regional Laboratory:

  • Biology: Port Elizabeth: Eastern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 940/2015)
  • Chemistry: Port Elizabeth: Eastern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 941/2015)
  • Ballistics: Port Elizabeth: Eastern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 942/2015)
  • Questioned Documents: Port Elizabeth: Eastern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 943/2015)
  • Ballistics: Amanzimtoti: KwaZulu Natal (2 Posts) (Ref FS 944/2015)
  • Questioned Documents: Amanzimtoti: KwaZulu Natal (1 Post) (Ref FS 947/2015)
  • Ballistics: Plattekloof: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 948/2015)
  • Chemistry: Plattekloof: Western Cape (2 Posts) (Ref FS 949/2015)
  • Biology: Plattekloof: Western Cape (2 Posts) (Ref FS 950/2015)
  • Questioned Documents: Plattekloof: Western Cape (1Post) (Ref FS 951/2015)
  • Chemistry: Amanzimtoti: KwaZulu Natal (2 Posts) (Ref FS 945/2015)
  • Biology: Amanzimtoti: KwaZulu Natal (1 Post) (Ref FS 946/2015)

Provincial Criminal Record and Crime Scene Management:

  • King William’s Town: Eastern Cape (2 Posts) (Ref FS 952/2015)
  • Bloemfontein: Free State (2 Posts) (Ref FS 953/2015)
  • Johannesburg: Gauteng (2 Posts) (Ref FS 954/2015)
  • Durban: KwaZulu Natal (2 Posts) (Ref FS 955/2015)
  • Polokwane: Limpopo (2 Posts) (Ref FS 956/2015)
  • Middelburg: Mpumalanga (2 Posts) (Ref FS 957/2015)
  • Kimberly: Northern Cape (2 Posts) (Ref FS 958/2015)
  • Potchefstroom: North West (2 Posts) (Ref FS 959/2015)
  • Cape Town: Western Cape (2 Posts) (Ref FS 960/2015)

36. Post: Forensic Analyst (Warrant Officer)
Discipline: Forensic Awareness
Section: Development Facilitation
Component: Quality Management
Location of the post:

  • Scientific Analysis: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 961/2015)
  • Victim Identification Centre: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 962/2015)

Regional Laboratory:

  • Ballistics: Port Elizabeth: Eastern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 963/2015)
  • Chemistry: Port Elizabeth: Eastern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 964/2015)
  • Questioned Documents: Port Elizabeth: Eastern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 965/2015)
  • Chemistry: Amanzimtoti: KwaZulu Natal (1 Post) (Ref FS 966/2015)
  • Biology: Amanzimtoti: KwaZulu Natal (1 Post) (Ref FS 967/2015)
  • Chemistry: Plattekloof: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 968/2015)
  • Ballistics: Plattekloof: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 969/2015)
  • Questioned Documents: Plattekloof: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 970/2015)

Provincial Criminal Record and Crime Scene Management:

  • Kimberly: Northern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 971/2015)

37. Post: Forensic Analyst (Warrant Officer)
Discipline: Lead Investigation
Section: Forensic Database Management
Component: Quality Management
Location of the post: Arcadia: Pretoria (7 Posts) (Ref FS 972/2015)

38. Post: Forensic Analyst (Warrant Officer)
Sub-Section: Client Notification Services: Reporting & Liaison
Section: Forensic Database Management
Component: Quality Management
Location of the post: Arcadia: Pretoria (2 Posts) (Ref FS 973/2015)

SUPPORT SERVICES:

39. Post Title: Assistant Administration Officer (Sergeant)
Section: Support Services
Location of the post: Arcadia: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 974/2015)

GENERAL:

  • Only the official application form (available on the SAPS website and at SAPS recruitment offices) will be accepted. The Z83 previously utilized will no longer be accepted. All instructions on the application form must be adhered to and all previous/pending criminal/disciplinary convictions must be declared. Failure to do so may result in the rejection of the application.
  • The post particulars and reference number of the post must be correctly specified on the application form. A separate application form must be completed for each post.
  • A comprehensive Curriculum Vitae must be submitted together with the application form.
  • Certified copies (certification preferably by Police Officers) of an applicant’s ID document, motor vehicle driver’s license (Police Act appointments), Senior Certificate and all educational qualifications obtained together with the academic record (statement of results) thereof and service certificates of previous employers stating the occupation and the period, must also be submitted and attached to every application. The copies must be correctly certified on the copy itself, not at the back. The certification must not be older than three months. All qualifications and driver’s licenses submitted will be subjected to verification checking with the relevant institutions.
  • CANDIDATES ARE REQUESTED TO INITIAL EACH AND EVERY PAGE OF THE APPLICATION FORM, CV AND ALL ANNEXURES.
  • The closing date for the applications is 2015-09-04. Applications must be mailed timeously. Late applications will not be accepted or considered.
  • Appointments will be made in terms of the SAPS Act or Public Service Act as applicable to the post environment.
  • If a candidate is short-listed, it can be expected of him/her to undergo a personal interview.
  • Successful applicants to be appointed in terms of the South African Police Service Act, 1995 (Act no 68 of 1995) and applicants not yet appointed in terms of the South African Police Service Act, 1995 (Act no 68 of 1995) will have to undergo a medical examination and found to be medically fit. They will further have to comply with the prescripts on the SAPS Dress Order, whereby tattoos may not be visible when wearing uniform, must be willing to undergo the prescribed Introductory Police Development Learning Programme and are expected to work flexi hours or shifts in the execution of their duties.
  • The Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Act, Act 37 of 2013 requires that all new recruits (appointments) in the South African Police Service as from 31st of January 2015 provide a buccal sample in order to determine their forensic DNA profile. The forensic DNA profile derived from the sample will be loaded to the National Forensic DNA Database.
  • Short-listed candidates for appointment to certain identified posts, will be vetted in terms of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, 2007 (Act No 32 of 2007) and the Children’s Act, 2005 (Act No 38 of 2005). A candidate, whose particulars appear in either the National Register for Sex Offenders or Part B of the Child Protection Register, will be disqualified from appointment to that post.
  • All short-listed candidates will be subjected to fingerprint screening. Candidates will be subjected to a vetting process which will include security screening and fingerprint verification.
  • Correspondence will be conducted with successful candidates only. If you have not been contacted within three (3) months after the closing date of this advertisement, please accept that your application was unsuccessful.
  • The South African Police Service is under no obligation to fill a post after the advertisement thereof.
  • The South African Police Service is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer and it is the intention to promote representivity in the Public Service through the filling of these posts. Persons whose transfer/appointment/promotion will promote representivity will therefore receive preference.

Applications and enquiries can be directed to:
Lt Colonel Klopper / Lt Moonsamy
Tel: (012) 421-0194
Tel: (012) 421-0584

Postal Address:
Private Bag X 322
PRETORIA
0001

Hand Delivery:
Cnr Beckett and Pretorius Street
Strelitzia Building
Arcadia

Identifying the Dead: Forensic Science and Human Identification online course

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

Uncover a grave, examine remains and reveal the victim’s identity in this free online course, linked to a new Val McDermid story, that is being offered through FutureLearn.com by the University of Dundee.

Starting date: 7th of September 2015
Duration of course: 6-weeks
To register: Please visit https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/identifying-the-dead/

About the course

The first step in any investigation involving a death is to determine the identity of the deceased. This free online course will take you on a journey through the world of forensic anthropology, unveiling the tools that will allow you to reveal that identity.

Join forensic experts to identify the dead

In the shadow of Dundee’s Law Hill, a grim discovery demands the attention of forensic experts. Unidentified human remains have been found and the police need to identify the victim to move forward with their investigation.

After a meticulous recovery of the remains, it will be your job to:

  • document and attempt to explain any evidence of trauma;
  • identify the victim through biological profiling;
  • and undertake a facial reconstruction.

Experts from the University of Dundee’s award-winning Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHId) will guide you through the process of human identification.

They will introduce you to the fields of human identification; forensic anthropology and archaeology; craniofacial identification; and the study of the human body.

Evaluate evidence as the case unfolds

Week-by-week, the case will unfold, providing you with more information about the victim. You will be presented with theoretical material and hands-on learning opportunities, to evaluate the case information and use what you have learned, to piece together clues to the victim’s identity.

You will be able to discuss, with educators and others learners, your thoughts on the identity of the deceased, based on your evaluation of the evidence.

Get your own copy of the murder mystery

After you submit your evaluation of the victim’s identity, all will be revealed at the end of the final week. You can continue your journey into the life and death of our victim in your very own ebook copy of a specially-written murder mystery by international best-selling crime novelist Val McDermid.

Requirements

No special knowledge or previous experience of studying is required.

Specialist police sniffer dogs lead to 215 arrests

Monday, June 29th, 2015

As long as crime has been fought, dogs have been used in the battle to keep lawlessness at bay. But mention a police dog and thoughts inevitably turn to that of a dog with its teeth bared, chasing down a criminal or keeping angry protesters at bay during riot control.

However, there is an elite group of 30 dogs in South Africa that never bare their teeth, and are usually friendly Border Collies or Labradors.

These are the dogs known as the biological, body fluid detection canines. They are specialised in detecting blood and semen. It is this ability that helps detectives solve crimes or gather vital evidence, especially in murder and rape cases.

National police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said in the year ended March 2015, these specialist canines were involved in almost 2 300 searches with 706 samples of blood or semen found and 215 suspects arrested.

There is one such dog at the Umzinto Dog Unit on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast. Paris loves nothing more than to chase down a tennis ball and bring it back to her handler, Warrant Officer Jason Reddy. However, the moment he puts her harness on, it is time to work seeking out blood or semen that is not readily visible.

K9 unit

What kind of dog is recruited to help the detectives?

“It has to be a dog with a friendly disposition. It also needs to be a dog that can get into small areas,” says Reddy, a 20-year veteran of the police. At least 18 of those years have been with the police dogs, or the K9 unit, as it is more commonly known.

Border Collies, Labradors and on occasion German Shepherd dogs are used. Paris is a black and white Border Collie with a little more than five years of service and, according to Reddy, has been the crucial link in a number of cases that have resulted in convictions.

In one case in which two girls were raped in Hibberdene on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast, Paris found a drop of blood that was not seen by the naked eye. The sample was taken and tested. The DNA from that small drop matched the DNA of a suspect already on the police’s database.

“That suspect had a previous conviction and we had his DNA on our database. He got 25 years,” said Reddy.

Paris has been trained to differentiate between human and animal samples. She can smell a pinprick-size sample of blood that is not visible to the human eye and can smell blood even if it has been washed away.

In a case where three people were killed in a hit-and-run accident, it was Paris’s sharp smelling ability that picked up the trace of blood inside a hole that would normally contain a screw holding the mud flap of the car that clinched the case. The driver, whom police suspected, had washed the car. The blood found by Paris was tested and found to belong to one of the three dead girls. Her sharp nose saw to it that the driver was convicted of culpable homicide.

Training

The dogs like Paris are picked once they are at least 14 months old and then undergo training at the police’s K9 Dog Training Academy in Roodeplaat in Pretoria.

Captain Cliffie Pillay, who is responsible for the police’s canines in KwaZulu-Natal, said the handlers of biological, body fluid detection canines must have had at least two years of experience as a dog handler.

Reddy was previously the handler of a dog trained to seek out explosives. And before he was teamed up with Paris, he too had to undergo training.

Reddy and Paris get called out once a day by detectives for murder cases or by the Family, Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit for rape cases.

In fact it was such a dog that was called out to help police last week in the hunt for two men who are alleged to have raped an American tourist in the Tsitsikamma National Park.

In one case where a couple was arrested for stabbing Umzinto grandmother Sushila Pillay, Paris located the alleged murder weapon – a knife – in the Umzinto River a week after the murder.

In Durban’s western suburb of Malvern, police had caught the suspect who had told them where he had thrown the knife used to stab a man. Officers could not find it in the open patch of land, but Paris found it still with the victim’s blood on it. While not necessary for the conviction, it solidified the case the police had against the man.

99% success rate

A quiet “Soek” from Reddy sends Paris looking for blood or semen, depending on what is required. When she finds it, she sits down at the spot. And that is when the forensics experts move in to confirm her good work and extract samples required for DNA testing.

In another case a woman who was raped repeatedly in a forest in Dududu near Umzinto was so distraught that she could not recall where in the forest the crime had occurred.

Reddy and Paris were called in and five different crime scenes in the forest were located by Paris.

Paris is expected to work for another five years at least, but even she is tested annually by Pillay to ensure that she is up to scratch.

According to Pillay, Paris will find that sample of blood or semen more than 99% of the time.

There are currently only two biological, body fluid detection canines working in KwaZulu-Natal, but according to Pillay there are plans to bring more of dogs like Paris to KwaZulu-Natal, so criminals beware.

This article was first published by News24.com on 21 June 2015

What is Forensic Photography?

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

Put simply, forensic photography (also known as forensic imaging or crime scene photography) relates to photography that is undertaken within a legal context, for example; providing an accurate visual record of an accident or crime scene.

In the process of aiding an investigation and/or legal proceedings in court, forensic photographers are called upon to photograph a wide range of subjects.

These include:

  • Crime Scenes
  • Gunshot Wounds
  • Bitemarks
  • Weapons
  • Trace Evidence
  • Autopsy Procedures

Less obvious but equally important photographic protocols include taking pictures of mail and newspapers to help establish date of death and photographs taken from the perspective of witnesses at the time of the crime etc.

The following short documentary by David Beazley takes a fascinating look at Forensic Photography through the eyes of Nick Marsh – a forensic photographer of over 20 years.

SOURCES:

Forensic Photographyhttp://www.all-about-forensic-science.com/forensic_photography.html

The Forensic Photographerhttps://vimeo.com/120053370

Crime scene discovery – separating the DNA of identical twins

Monday, May 11th, 2015

Forensic scientist Dr Graham Williams uncovers one of the DNA’s longstanding mysteries

SINCE its first use in the 1980s – a breakthrough dramatised in recent [UK] ITV series Code of a Killer – DNA profiling has been a vital tool for forensic investigators.  Now researchers at the University of Huddersfield have solved one of its few limitations by successfully testing a technique for distinguishing between the DNA – or genetic fingerprint – of identical twins.

The probability of a DNA match between two unrelated individuals is about one in a billion.  For two full siblings, the probability drops to one-in-10,000.  But identical twins present exactly the same DNA profile as each other and this has created legal conundrums when it was not possible to tell which of the pair was guilty or innocent of a crime.  This has led to prosecutions being dropped, rather than run the risk of convicting the wrong twin.

Now Dr Graham Williams and his Forensic Genetics Research Group at the University of Huddersfield have developed a solution to the problem and published their findings in the journal Analytical Biochemistry.

Previous methods have been proposed for distinguishing the DNA of twins.  One is termed “mutation analysis”, where the whole genome of both twins is sequenced to identify mutations that might have occurred to one of them.

“If such a mutation is identified at a particular location in the twin, then that same particular mutation can be specifically searched for in the crime scene sample.  However, this is very expensive and time-consuming and is unlikely to be paid for by cash-strapped police forces,” according to Dr Williams, who has shown that a cheaper, quicker technique is available.

Dr Graham Williams

It is based on the concept of DNA methylation, which is effectively the molecular mechanism that turns various genes on and off.

As twins get older, the degree of difference between them grows as they are subjected to increasingly different environments.  For example, one might take up smoking, or one might have a job outdoors and the other a desk job.  This will cause changes in the methylation status of the DNA.

In order to carry our speedy, inexpensive analysis of this, Dr Williams and his team propose a technique named “high resolution melt curve analysis” (HRMA).

“What HRMA does is to subject the DNA to increasingly high temperatures until the hydrogen bonds break, known as the melting temperature.  The more hydrogen bonds that are present in the DNA, the higher the temperature required to melt them,” explains Dr Williams.

“Consequently, if one DNA sequence is more methylated than the other, then the melting temperatures of the two samples will differ – a difference that can be measured, and which will establish the difference between two identical twins.”

Pictured (left to right) are Dr Williams's students Dieudonné van der Meer, Leander Stewart, Neil Evans and Kimberley Bexon.

HRMA has some limitations, acknowledges Dr Williams.  For example young twins, or twins raised in highly similar environments may not have yet developed sufficient methylation differences.

Also the technique requires a high sample quantity that might not be present at the crime scene.

“Nevertheless, we have demonstrated substantial progress towards a relatively cheap and quick test for differentiating between identical twins in forensic case work,” says Dr Williams, who gives a detailed summary of the science behind the breakthrough at blog-site The Conversation.

SOURCE: This article was first published online by the University of Huddersfield on 20 April 2015.

Infographic: What are DNA profiles used for?

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Thanks to SciBraai and Anina Mumm for sharing this infographic with us.

DNA profiling has revolutionised criminal justice globally and in South Africa. The graphic below was created in 2012, to accompany a feature on the potential promise and pitfalls of a DNA database as set out in the then ‘DNA Bill’.

SOURCE: http://scibraai.co.za/infographic-what-are-dna-profiles-used-for/

Excavating a grave site: Anthropological or forensic crime scene?

Friday, April 24th, 2015

A skeleton appearing in a grave.

Following the recent discovery of mass graves on Glenroy farm in Dududu (KZN) some months ago, the question arose as to whether the scene should be handled as a forensic (crime scene) or anthropological/archaeological case.

While a commission of inquiry has been established, it is being treated as forensic case in the first instance until otherwise determined and as such currently falls under the jurisdiction of the SAPS forensics unit while they conduct their preliminary investigations.

But what exactly is the difference between a forensic and an anthropological/archaeological case when investigating human remains?

In a forensic case the responsibility for the investigation of deaths due to unnatural causes lies with the Forensic Pathology Service in the province where the incident occurred and under the Inquests Act (Act 58 of 1959), this Service makes provision for the rendering of medico-legal investigation of the cause of death and serves the judicial process.

Up until 2006 this function was performed by, and fell under, the SAPS. As stipulated by the National Health Act (Act 61 of 2003), the operational management of the medico-legal laboratory facilities was subsequently transferred to the different provincial Departments of Health.

In an anthropological case, jurisdiction over inadvertently discovered human remains is governed by the National Heritage Resources Act (Act 25 of 1999) which stipulates that all discoveries of human remains should be reported to the local SAPS and the relevant Heritage Resources Agency.

Human remains identified by the Act, or proclaimed by the minister of Arts and Culture, should be reported to the South African Heritage Resources Agency Burial Grounds and Graves Unit. Jurisdiction, that is, whether the remains are forensic in nature or of heritage value, and whether the cause of death was non-natural and judicially relevant, is then assigned after consultation between officials.

As a general rule, although specified exceptions to this are indicated in the National Heritage Resources Act, human remains older than 60 years are not forensic, and remains older than 100 years are considered to be archaeological.

The National Heritage Resources Act also identifies categories of human remains, such as Victims of Conflict (referring to victims of the pre-1994 political violence in South Africa), which are classified as human rights abuses and deserving of special investigation and commemoration.

What is forensic anthropology?

Forensic anthropology is a specialist field that deals with the evidence that can be collected from human remains – both hard tissue in the form of dry bones and soft tissue in the form of dried flesh from dried up or mummified bodies.

A forensic anthropologist has detailed knowledge of anatomy, particularly the anatomy of the human skeleton, since the bones are usually all that remains when a forensic anthropologist is called in to identify a body.

What is a forensic anthropologist able to discern in respect of discovered remains that will aid the investigation?

Forensic anthropologists are able to reconstruct information surrounding the events that lead to the preservation of the discovered remains and call this the study of ‘taphonomy’, which includes the evidence of death, and the accumulation and preservation of bones over time.

Forensic anthropologists speak of four taphonomic periods in relation to a dead individual:

  • the ante-mortem period, which covers the whole of the time before the death of the person
  • the peri-mortem period, which is around the time of death
  • the post-mortem period which includes the time between death and discovery
  • the post-recovery period which includes the process of recovery, analysis and storage of the bony evidence.

Each period provides different contexts for enquiry. During the ante-mortem period (before death), the skeleton is living and records its own details of growth and development.

These can be used to develop a biological profile of the individual and help in securing identification.

The peri-mortem period is obviously important because it includes the events around the death and the cause of death.

However, the post-mortem period is important as well because it gives the time context of the crime by revealing information about the post-mortem interval (PMI). Each and every event after the discovery needs to be recorded as part of the ‘chain of custody’ so that there are no questions about the data when the case is discussed in court.

How can forensic anthropologists estimate sex and age?

By examining the skeletal remains, an anthropologist can estimate whether they are from a male or female.

A skeleton’s overall size and sturdiness give some clues. Within the same population, males tend to have larger, more robust bones and joint surfaces, and more bone development at muscle attachment sites.

Pelvic differences between males and females.

However, the pelvis is the best sex-related skeletal indicator, because of distinct features adapted for childbearing.

The skull also has features that can indicate sex, though slightly less reliably.

Male skull

Female skull

Determining how old a person was when they died is much more difficult than estimating their sex. The estimation of age at death involves observing morphological changes (changes in structure) in the skeletal remains and comparing it to what is known about chronological changes (changes that happen as we get older) that occur in the skeleton.

SOURCES

Friedling, J. (2012). What the bones can tell us. QUEST, 8(2). Academy of Science for South Africa.

Groen,W.J.M.,  Márquez-Grant, N., Janaway, R. (2015). Forensic Archaeology: A Global Perspective. Wiley-Blackwell.

Morris, A. (2012). What is forensic anthropology? QUEST, 8(2). Academy of Science for South Africa.

DNA Test That Distinguishes Identical Twins May Be Used in Court for First Time

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

In 2004, two young women were abducted at gunpoint while walking home near Boston [United States] at night. The crimes happened eight days apart, but the pattern was the same: The women were shoved into a car by two men, pistol-whipped, driven to a different location, and raped. While collecting her clothes, the second victim managed to grab the condom one of the men had worn; she hid it in her pocket, and turned it in as evidence.

One of the two men involved pleaded guilty to the attacks in 2012. The other remained at large. Police had a suspect, but they couldn’t pin the crime on him due to a twist of genetic fate: He had an identical twin brother, and DNA from the condom matched both siblings. But now, a decade after the assaults, scientists have developed a genetic test that can distinguish between identical twins, and it may be used in court for the first time in this case.

The second suspect is 33-year-old Dwayne McNair. In September, McNair was arraigned on eight counts of aggravated rape and two counts of armed robbery, stemming from the two sexual assaults.

Traditional forensic methods can’t differentiate between DNA belonging to identical twins

He’s been a suspect in the crimes since 2007. According to court documents, a standard genetic test linked him to semen collected from the second attack back in 2008. That would ordinarily be enough to justify charges, but Dwayne wasn’t the only person whose DNA matched that semen. His twin, Dwight, was also a match. Traditional forensic methods can’t differentiate between DNA belonging to identical twins, and without a clear way to establish whether Dwayne or Dwight had left the semen at the scene, police had no probable cause to make an arrest in 2008.

But in 2012, the other man involved in the assaults told investigators that Dwayne had been his partner in the crimes. And earlier this year, prosecutors learned of a new forensic genetics test claiming to differentiate between biological samples belonging to identical twins. According to the Suffolk County District Attorney the test points to Dwayne, not Dwight, as the perpetrator of the 2004 assaults.

Normally, forensic tests work by extracting and amplifying regions of DNA collected from a crime scene. Then, investigators look for a match between the evidence and a suspect’s genetic sequence. Ordinarily, this kind of testing is sufficient: Most humans vary from one another enough for investigators to easily identify whether a suspect left blood, skin, hair, semen, or something else at a crime scene.

This is not true with identical twins. Grown from the same, single fertilized egg, monozygotic twins have nearly identical genomes. So, for decades, twins committing crimes had a relatively easy way to establish doubt—based on DNA evidence alone, their identical sibling would be equally as likely to have deposited whatever genetic material might have been left at a crime scene.

Maybe not anymore.

Using what’s known as ultra-deep, next-generation sequencing, a team in Germany has developed a test that claims to reliably identify which twin a biological sample belongs to. The test works by taking a close look at the genetic letters (called base pairs) comprising the 3 billion-base-pair human genome. Because mutations randomly occur during development, even genetically “identical” twins will vary at a handful of locations, says Burkhard Rolf, a forensic scientist at Eurofins Scientific, the company that developed the test.

The sequence mutations are random, so it’s incredibly unlikely they’d be the same in both twins—and it’s those discrepancies that can be used to pin a crime on a twin.

In a proof-of-principle study, Rolf and his colleagues analyzed sequences from a pair of twins and one of their kids. Scientists could positively identify which twin was the child’s father, based on five single base pair differences present in the father and son, but not in the uncle. They published the work earlier this year in Forensic Science International: Genetics; it’s this paper that caught the Suffolk District Attorney’s attention.

Results from Eurofins, showing one of the mutations

The office sent evidence to Eurofins for analysis. After the results came back, the McNair was indicted and arraigned for the crimes in September.

“At arraignment, the assigned prosecutor cited the Eurofins test results and said Dwayne McNair was ‘two billion times more likely’ than his twin to have been the source of the crime scene DNA,” says Suffolk DA spokesperson Jake Wark.

Now, the question is: Will the genetic test be admissible in court? It would be the first time it’s been used in the United States. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 12, 2015, after which a judge will decide whether evidence from the test is admissible.

Some experts seem to think it will hold up.

“It is scientifically sound and reliable, has a high probability of success, is based on standard, generally accepted forensic DNA sequencing technology, and has an infinitesimally low risk of error if proper laboratory practices are followed,” said Bruce Budowle, in an affidavit to the court. Budowle, who is now at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, once led the FBI’s DNA typing laboratory.

Yet some scientists are a bit wary. “I think it’s an interesting idea,” says computational biologist Yaniv Erlich of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The work published by the Eurofins team is accurate, he says, but is only based on one pair of twins. In an ideal world, Erlich would test the method using dozens of twin pairs, while simulating the small amounts of DNA that might be found at crime scenes.

He’s also concerned about the test’s applicability to different tissue types, and blood in particular (which is not an issue in the McNair case). In 2011, Erlich took a close look at the blood of identical twins who shared a placenta during development; early on, these twins are also sharing blood – even as adults, each twin has blood cells with DNA from the other twin.

“Think about one twin being Coca-Cola, the other twin is Sprite,” Erlich said. Their blood will be a mix of Coke and Sprite. “It’s not 50-50,” he said, “but it could be 20-80.”

In other words, while the Eurofins method might not work as well with blood samples left at crime scenes. But when it comes to saliva, skin, or semen, it could mean that identical twins are about to lose their genetic get-out-of-jail-free card.

SOURCE: This article was first published by Wired on 4 December 2014 and written by Nadia Drake – http://www.wired.com/2014/12/genetic-test-distinguishes-identical-twins-may-used-court-first-time/