web analytics
a

Facebook

Twitter

Copyright 2015 Libero Themes.
All Rights Reserved.

8:30 - 6:00

Our Office Hours Mon. - Fri.

703-406-7616

Call For Free 15/M Consultation

Facebook

Twitter

Search
Menu
Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "DNA"

Case Closed: A Reston company that helps police crack DNA evidence

This is Part 1 of a three-part series on WTOP.com about DNA evidence, its evolution and how it’s being used in the D.C. area and beyond.

In 1993, Kirk Bloodsworth, a Maryland waterman, became the first American on death row to be exonerated by DNA evidence, after spending 19 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

Since then, numerous other convicted killers have been declared innocent by DNA evidence that proved someone else was responsible. But recently, advances in DNA science have also been used to bring about convictions as well as exonerations.

Those advances, combined with our own interest in finding out about our ancestry and heritage, have had a groundbreaking impact on police work. Just the tiniest amount of DNA material, and a few weeks’ time, can get detectives answers that have eluded them for years, even decades. The most famous example came last year with the arrest of a serial killer and rapist known as “The Golden State Killer.

The closure of that decades-old case reverberated through the technology sector — it also led one local company to completely change its business model in a matter of weeks.

For the police, it’s revolutionary. For victims’ families, it’s invaluable. But it also raises concerns from privacy advocates and others who say the technology, and how it’s used, is an intrusion into the lives of people, and could be unconstitutional.

This week, WTOP is looking at how DNA is closing cases but also raising questions about the steps law enforcement is taking.

An overnight shift

Police departments around the country, including many in the D.C. area, are partnering up with private companies who can look at DNA samples in ways the police don’t have the resources to do. The end result leads to breaks in cases that had been stone-cold.

Parabon Nanolabs, based in Reston, Virginia, is one of those companies. They’ve been helping police crack cases in the area and nationwide — including the 1972 murder of an 11-year-old in California, which was solved earlier this month.

Parabon is a 20-year-old company that began as a software firm. About 10 years ago, Parabon “began realizing there was genetic content in DNA that wasn’t being exploited by the forensics community,” said CEO and co-founder Steve Armentrout.

In simple terms, the way scientists study DNA is similar to how a computer programmer might look at code. It took someone to create row after row of characters to produce this website, for instance.

“In that sense, code is responsible for output, and genetic code is responsible for the human being that possesses that DNA,” Armentrout explained.

Dr. Ellen Greytak, Parabon’s director of bioinformatics, said, “Ever since the completion of the human genome (in 2003) there’s been a lot of research … trying to understand what parts of the genome code for what kinds of traits.”

Most of the research focused on medical applications — trying to figure out, for instance, whether someone was more likely to develop certain types of cancers or other diseases. But scientists have also been able to use DNA to begin figuring out why you might look like you do — everything from the shape of your face, or just your nose, to your hair and eye color.

“When we talk about ‘Oh, you have your mother’s eyes,’ that’s because you have your mother’s DNA. It’s been passed down,” Greytak explained. “So we can find the parts of the DNA that actually code for the differences between people who have blue eyes versus green versus hazel versus brown.” Then they can build “a predictive model,” working in the other direction and using the DNA information to figure out what characteristics the person has.

“We say we need one nanogram of DNA,” Greytak said. That’s about one one-billionth of a penny, and it can come from blood, sweat, saliva, other bodily fluids or skin.

“When you have an unknown DNA sample at a crime scene where the detective has no description of that person, there’s no witness,” Greytak said, ” … we come along and analyze that DNA and say, ‘Oh, that pattern; we’ve seen that before, but we’ve only seen it in blue-eyed people.’ That’s oversimplified, but that’s the idea and then we can tell the investigator, ‘You’re most likely looking for a blue-eyed person; they might have green eyes but they almost certainly don’t have brown eyes.’”

That’s called phenotyping, and it’s how Parabon began working with the military and later with the police.

Parabon started working with the Department of Defense in support of missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, using phenotyping to help identify those responsible for leaving roadside bombs. The end result would at least give the military an idea of what their suspect might look like, based on how the DNA taken compared to other traits found in people.

Parabon also helped the military identify the remains of those lost in past wars — typically, soldiers killed many decades ago who didn’t have a known next of kin.

Westlake Legal Group snapshot-report_stack Case Closed: A Reston company that helps police crack DNA evidence virginia news Science News Parabon NanoLabs Parabon Local News Fairfax County, VA News DNA series DNA evidence DNA crime
Parabon can take DNA and turn it into a composite profile, which can predict what a person looks like. (Courtesy Parabon)

The predictive models were useful for the military, but even more intriguing to police departments. Parabon could come up with composite pictures of what suspects looked like — and unidentified crime victims too.

She added, “Then you add in hair color and ancestry and face shape, and you get to a smaller and smaller group of people you want to start investigating.”

Cracking a code

The arrest of a serial killer last year changed everything for Parabon.

Police in California announced the arrest of a retired police officer named Joseph DeAngelo, who was known as the Golden State Killer. The case was cracked by the latest advance in DNA evidence, called genetic genealogy.

Westlake Legal Group snapshot-kinship_chart Case Closed: A Reston company that helps police crack DNA evidence virginia news Science News Parabon NanoLabs Parabon Local News Fairfax County, VA News DNA series DNA evidence DNA crime
A kinship chart shows how Parabon can use DNA to navigate through a family tree. (Courtesy Parabon)

While Parabon didn’t work on that case, its method is similar: its researchers come up with a report that shows how closely the DNA obtained by police is matched with the names of people whose DNA profiles are already in public databases — typically, they’re people tracing their lineage.

Included in the report are names of relatives, sometimes distant relatives, of the suspect police have become stumped trying to find, and roughly how distantly related that person may be.

By that time, Parabon was already working with a renowned genetic genealogist named CeCe Moore. “Within two weeks’ time we had revamped the business model here, hired CeCe, and began using genetic genealogy as really our primary first offering,” Armentrout said.

Greytak said the level of specifics Parabon can determine now can truly help in a case.

“I joked, ‘Do you really care if he has blue eyes if we can tell you his name and address?’,” Dr. Greytak said.

“This is the up-and-coming thing in cold case investigations,” said Sgt. Christopher Homrock, who leads the Montgomery County Police Department’s cold case unit. And he should know: In recent years, his department and others in Maryland have used the technology to identify suspects and victims in cases going back decades.

Coming Wednesday in Part 2: Area police departments have closed cases in the last year that have stumped them since the 1980s, and even farther back.

Coming Friday in Part 3: Is genetic genealogy constitutional? Is it legal in Maryland and D.C.?

Source

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Oh, by the way: Epstein wanted to seed the human race with his sperm or something, NYT reports

Westlake Legal Group e-1 Oh, by the way: Epstein wanted to seed the human race with his sperm or something, NYT reports Zorro Ranch transhumanism The Blog sperm santa fe Rape prison pinker penis pedophile NY Times Jeffrey Epstein hawking frozen DNA Alan Dershowitz

Nothing much happened this lazy Wednesday afternoon as America prepared for the second leg of the second Democratic debate.

Just the country’s most famous paper breaking the most bananas news story you’ll ever read.

No excerpt will do it justice. Suffice it to say: Imagine how creepy you’d need to be for this to not be the creepiest thing you’re known for.

Jeffrey E. Epstein, the wealthy financier and accused sex trafficker, had an unusual dream: He hoped to seed the human race with his DNA by impregnating women at his vast New Mexico ranch

On multiple occasions starting in the early 2000s, Mr. Epstein told scientists and businessmen about his ambitions to use his New Mexico ranch as a base where women would be inseminated with his sperm and would give birth to his babies, according to two award-winning scientists and an adviser to large companies and wealthy individuals, all of whom Mr. Epstein told about it…

Once, at a dinner at Mr. Epstein’s mansion on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Mr. Lanier said he talked to a scientist who told him that Mr. Epstein’s goal was to have 20 women at a time impregnated at his 33,000-square-foot Zorro Ranch in a tiny town outside Santa Fe. Mr. Lanier said the scientist identified herself as working at NASA, but he did not remember her name.

Epstein used to throw dinner parties to which well-educated women would be invited which Lanier thought he was using as a sort of cattle call for prospective mothers. A question I immediately regret contemplating: Was the plan to convince/hire these women to undergo IVF treatment using his sperm or was he hoping for, ah, direct deposit?

Another: Why’d he want this done at the ranch specifically, and why did he have a particular number of women in mind? He was a man of practically unlimited means. If all he wanted was to hire someone to carry his child, he could have done that with as many women as he liked and compensated them for their service without demanding they uproot and move to New Mexico.

Maybe by then he was so used to having underaged girls under his thumb that he needed physical control of prospective surrogate mothers too. Which raises another highly uncomfortable thought: Was this “seed the world” plan limited exclusively to women of age or was he aiming to knock up 15-year-olds?

That might explain why he’d want them secreted away at the ranch, out of public view.

Or possibly John’s right that Epstein really did view this as some sort of perverted science experiment, the ranch serving as his “lab.” The Times story goes on and on about Epstein’s interest, or pseudo-interest, in the science of genetics, replete with cultivating friendships with some of the world’s most eminent scientists by dangling potential investments in their research in exchange for their company. He would allegedly chatter to them about genes as well as regale them with deep thoughts such as that “atoms behaved like investors in a marketplace” or that he hoped to identify “a mysterious particle that might trigger the feeling that someone is watching you.”

Oh, and on occasion how he hoped to have his dick frozen:

One adherent of transhumanism said that he and Mr. Epstein discussed the financier’s interest in cryogenics, an unproven science in which people’s bodies are frozen to be brought back to life in the future. Mr. Epstein told this person that he wanted his head and penis to be frozen.

Given how one of his alleged victims described his equipment, you would think this degenerate would be looking forward to acquiring a new package from his new body:

Westlake Legal Group e-2 Oh, by the way: Epstein wanted to seed the human race with his sperm or something, NYT reports Zorro Ranch transhumanism The Blog sperm santa fe Rape prison pinker penis pedophile NY Times Jeffrey Epstein hawking frozen DNA Alan Dershowitz

His pal Alan Dershowitz recalled Epstein once chatting him up about eugenics, which took Dershowitz aback given the idea’s Nazi pedigree. God only knows what other sorts of conversations they had on this topic. “Great squash game, Alan. Oh, listen, I’ve been meaning to ask you for some legal advice: It’d be okay for me to keep a stable of human broodmares to host my seed, right?”

One more extremely dark question in this story of a dark mind at work: What did Epstein have planned for the children born of these unholy couplings at his ranch, specifically his daughters? Was he just hoping to raise a family, or did he have other ideas about how to further purify the gene pool?

It’s going to be a probate nightmare when Epstein dies without a will and his 785 children have to fight over the estate. A reader emailed us this afternoon after the Times story dropped speculating that it was a fabrication concocted to discredit Epstein as a nutcase by people whom he might implicate in his crimes. Eh. The Times claims four separate sources for Epstein’s “sperm ranch” scheme, and as disturbing as the idea is, it’s not the sort of disturbing that would necessarily discredit his memory or veracity. If you want to impeach Epstein on the stand, you’d point to the fact that he’s a convicted sex offender *and* allegedly a serial pedophile *and* a guy who naturally has every reason to lie about others in order to get another sweetheart deal from the feds on the new charges he’s facing. Sperm ranch is just icing on the pervert cake, and that cake is already well baked.

The post Oh, by the way: Epstein wanted to seed the human race with his sperm or something, NYT reports appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group e-1-300x153 Oh, by the way: Epstein wanted to seed the human race with his sperm or something, NYT reports Zorro Ranch transhumanism The Blog sperm santa fe Rape prison pinker penis pedophile NY Times Jeffrey Epstein hawking frozen DNA Alan Dershowitz   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

We’d like a sample of your dog’s DNA for poop purposes

Westlake Legal Group wed-like-a-sample-of-your-dogs-dna-for-poop-purposes We’d like a sample of your dog’s DNA for poop purposes The Blog genetics dogs DNA Animals

Westlake Legal Group DogSleepingCouchAwkward715 We’d like a sample of your dog’s DNA for poop purposes The Blog genetics dogs DNA Animals

It’s really annoying when people take their dogs out for a walk and don’t clean up after them, isn’t it? Being a dog owner/walker myself, I always make sure to bring a plastic bag along with me to clean up after Jake and I have pointed out to others that they should do likewise when I see someone being negligent. And yet, not everyone is so responsible, but what do we do about it? One apartment complex in Pennsylvania has come up with a rather unique solution. They’re building a DNA database of all the dogs that live there so they can send offending samples found on the grass out for analysis. (CBS Philadelphia)

A Delaware County apartment complex is going to extreme lengths to deal with residents who don’t clean up after their dogs. The Governor Sproul Apartments in Marple Township is swabbing dogs to get their DNA.

“They’re asking all of their pet owners to get DNA from their dogs,” said Rose Renzulli.

Governor Sproul management has grown tired of “party pooper tenants” not picking up after their four-legged friends. They even offer free bags and a friendly reminder to clean up.

“I didn’t realize we had a dog doo problem,” one resident said.

So how does your average apartment manager go about setting up a lab and building a doggy DNA database? She doesn’t. They have owners swab their dogs and send the sample out to a place called Poo Prints. (Yes, that’s a real service.) The company, which describes itself at their website as “a proven dog poop management service,” enters each dog’s DNA into the DNA World Pet Registry database.

Then, when anyone finds an unscooped “sample” on the apartment complex grounds, maintenance workers collect some of it and mail it off to Poo Prints, where it’s tested against the known database of registered dogs. If they get a match, the owner can be fined up to $250, along with being shamed by all their neighbors, no doubt.

My first question (of many) was how they could get everyone in compliance. If you’re someone who regularly lets your dog poop on the public square without cleaning it up, why would you submit a DNA sample? Turns out that the apartment complex is making compliance with the DNA swabbing part of their lease agreement.

You can see this sort of thing spiraling out of control quickly. Pretty soon all of the shelters and pet stores could be coerced into providing DNA samples of every dog they adopt or sell. Once the database is large enough, they’d have a record of a majority of pets along with where they live sooner or later. I know the police would dearly love to have a complete database of every human being in the country, but you pesky privacy advocates seem to be opposed to that. The dogs don’t have any lawyers (or constitutional rights for that matter), however, so this could really happen.

Orwellian or just good property management? You be the judge.

The post We’d like a sample of your dog’s DNA for poop purposes appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group DogSleepingCouchAwkward715-300x163 We’d like a sample of your dog’s DNA for poop purposes The Blog genetics dogs DNA Animals   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com