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Tag: forensics

FBI Solves Mystery of 4,000-Year-Old Egyptian Mummy with Severed Head

The severed, mummified head found in a ransacked tomb, via Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The FBI solved a century-long mystery over the identify of a 4,000-year-old Egyptian mummy whose severed head was discovered in a burial chamber ransacked by thieves.

It was a major breakthrough for the FBI – and the scientific community – because genetic material had never been successfully extracted from a four-century-old mummy, the New York Times reports

A team of American archaeologists discovered the head in Deit el-Bersha, an ancient Egyptian necropolis. They determined the tomb belonged to a governor called Djehutynakht and his wife, but they were unable to decipher the gender of the head.

So they turned to the FBI, which used advanced DNA sequencing to determine the head belonged to governor by drilling into a tooth extracted from the skull. Odile Loreille, an FBI biologist, used the remains of the tooth, dissolved it in a chemical solution and them ran it through a DNA copy machine.

She deduced from the ratio of sex chromosomes that the skull belonged to a male.

The successful discovery advances a powerful DNA collecting technique that will help the bureau’s forensic studies.

Justice Department to Perform Expansive Review of FBI Lab’s Forensic Testimony

U.S. Attorney Sally Yates

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is performing an expansive review of forensic testimony by the FBI Laboratory to determine whether evidence was overstated to secure convictions, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced.

Beginning in March, the Justice Department will determine how it will audit samples of testimony from FBI units that handle pattern-based evidence, which includes crime-scene evidence such as bullet impressions, fiber, soil and shoe treads, the Washington Post reports. 

It won’t be an easy task. More than 100,000 examinations of such crime-scene evidence is conducted annually by the FBI and other crime labs.

“We are undertaking this quality-assurance review because we think it is good operating procedure — and not because of specific concerns with other disciplines,” Yates said Wednesday in an address to the American Academy of Forensic Scientists’ annual meeting in Las Vegas.

The move comes after serious flaws were found in the collection of so-called hair matches.

The FBI declined to comment.

Other Stories of Interest

Ex-FBI Agent: No One More Capable of Solving Egyptian Plane Crash Than FBI

Google-map-SinaiBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

When it comes to forensic investigations of acts of terrorism, no one is better than the FBI, former FBI agent Ron Hosko said to Newsmax TV. 

That’s why it’s no surprise that Russian leaders have called on the FBI to help investigate the deadly plane crash in Egypt.

“The truth is the FBI has vast experience in this area and tremendous expertise,” Hosko told host Ed Berliner on “The Hard Line.” “They have a capability that is probably unmatched around the world.

“In the wake of our efforts and Operation Enduring Freedom, the FBI created the Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center called TEDAC in about 2003, that brings together not just FBI personnel and experts but those from the military and other government agencies as well. So there’s a great capability here.”

If anyone is capable of finding evidence of a bomb, Hosko said, it would be the FBI.

“The advantage is from a forensics point of view, it was an area essentially over the desert so that many of the pieces ought to be collectable. Even if some have buried themselves slightly into the earth, you could with metal detectors identify, locate, and bring back a lot of pieces over essentially a flat piece of land.

“This is not a remote mountain side nor is it over the ocean. So there’s a great opportunity for forensics experts with the right mindset to collect and then to analyze.

“Yes, some of the device, if it was a device, would be vaporized. However, the FBI has shown repeatedly in investigations here… that you can find those small items. Just look no further than Pan Am 103 where they tracked it back to barometric triggers and sensors and pieced that puzzle back together and went back to Libya.

“So this can be done, it’s over a piece of the world where it ought to be advantageous to do that sort of work.”

Federal Review: FBI Lab Rife with Forensic Flaws in 1980s, 1990s

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI and Justice Department have found serious problems at the bureau’s lab that raise serious questions about the guilt or innocence of several thousand people who have been convicted, the Washington Post reports.

The investigation began after the Washington Post exposed flawed evidence two years involving microscopic hair matches.

“I don’t know whether history is repeating itself, but clearly the [latest] report doesn’t give anyone a sense of confidence that the work of the examiners whose conduct was first publicly questioned in 1997 was reviewed as diligently and promptly as it needed to be,” said Michael R. Bromwich, who was inspector general from 1994 to 1999 and is now a partner at the Goodwin Procter law firm.

The review of the cases was halted last year, the FBI said, because of a “vigorous debate that occurred within the FBI and DOJ about the appropriate scientific standards we should apply when reviewing FBI lab examiner testimony — many years after the fact.”

The investigations resumed this month.

“Working closely with DOJ, we have resolved those issues and are moving forward with the transcript review for the remaining cases,” the FBI said.

Report: FBI Failed to Reveal Flawed Lab Work in Death Row Cases

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A scathing report accuses the FBI and Justice Department of waiting too long to notify prosecutors of flawed forensic work used in death-row convictions, the Washington Post reports.

The Office of Inspector General reported Wednesday on one of the worst modern scandals involving the FBI lab. The Inspector General found that the Justice Department failed to properly review cases handled by FBI examiners with a history of flawed work.

The report indicates that more than 60 death-row defendants were notified that their cases were handled by 13 lab examiners whose work has been questioned. But it took more than five years to identify those defendants, according to the report.

One man was executed in Texas in 1997 but should not have been because of the FBI’s flawed work, the report states.

FBI Forensic Team sent to Yemen to Investigate Attack on Prez Compound

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

An FBI forensic team has been sent to Yemen to investigate the attack on the presidential compound that wounded President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the website Global Post reported.

“The FBI is aiding Yemeni law enforcement in their investigation in the attack on the presidential compound. The FBI team arrived in Sanaa last Wednesday,” said a senior Yemeni government official, according to the website.

The website said that the request underscores the close relationship between Yemen and the U.S.

News reports had initially said that the attack might have been the work of a rival tribal group. But some reports say the FBI will be looking at whether al Qaeda was involved, or someone within the presidential circles.

“They are concerned about how the attack was carried out. Everyone is a suspect,” the Yemeni official said, according to the website.

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