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DNA evidence leads to breakthrough in 40-year-old case

Cold cases are notoriously difficult to crack, but advancements in technology have allowed DNA evidence to solve even the toughest crimes.

DNA came to the rescue once again for a Nevada murder case that has been ongoing for more than 40 years. The victim, known only as ‘Jane Arroyo Grande Doe’, was found dead outside Las Vegas. Attempts to identify her were fruitless, until last month when DNA helped to finally reveal her name.

Tammy Terrell’s identity was confirmed through investigative genetic genealogy, where DNA is used to match people and trace relationships to determine potential relatives of an unidentified person.

Terrell was just 17 when her body was found by a driver in the desert area near Arroyo Grande Boulevard on October 5. This was just a week after she was last seen with two unidentified people at a Roswell, New Mexico restaurant on September 28. Officials believe the teenager was heading to California before she was killed.

Previous attempts had been made over the decades to identify her body, but it was not until November 2021 that the Henderson police force made a breakthrough. The authorities received a positive confirmation of her identity thanks to forensic genealogy and experts who were also responsible for identifying the Golden State Killer in 2018. The samples that led to this discovery came from her two sisters, but police stated that the investigation into her death was still ongoing.

Investigative Genetic Genealogy (IGG)

Looking for a fresh challenge in the New Year? ICFECI may have just the thing for you.

The Institute offers a number of courses for investigators at any stage of their career, boasting an extensive range of programs in all areas of forensic examination. One of our more recent offerings is the Investigative Genetic Genealogy course, also known as IGG.

DNA is a vital source of evidence in any case, and it’s essential that this evidence is handled appropriately. One of the ways we can use DNA is by identifying who it belongs to and explaining why that material might have been found there. For example, we may expect to find a husband’s hair fibers on his wife’s clothing, however it would be less obvious why her tennis coach’s hair would be there.

If we know the source of the DNA already or have suspects who can provide a sample, usually this allows us to piece together who committed the crime. But sometimes DNA can be found that does not match to any of the victim’s relatives, friends or suspects in the case. This foreign DNA must be investigated as it could lead to the arrest of the perpetrator, but how can authorities match the DNA to a complete stranger?

That’s where Investigative Genetic Genealogy comes in. This allows investigators to access public data, personal genomics DNA databases or private company information to see if they can find a match. Automated algorithms generate potential relative matches by finding shared blocks of DNA, submitted voluntarily by users of these services. The IGG course teaches the forensic application of this genetic data and how to use public databases and traditional genealogical records to analyze crime scene samples.

If you’d like to enroll on this course or find out more, get in touch with ICFECI today. One of our experts is always on hand to provide more information and will gladly help you with your query.

Forensic Investigation Programs

When it comes to forensic investigation, technology is key. The amount of data that can be retrieved from computers, cell phones and other devices is almost limitless, with everything from messages and photos to downloads and files recovered quickly and easily. The software that allows investigators to do this should therefore be chosen very carefully – experts need fast results they can rely on, so trawling through various programs is not ideal. Instead, investigators use these key platforms to make sure they get all the evidence they need in as short a time as possible.

Autopsy

Autopsy is a sophisticated program used by professionals around the globe. National security, large corporations and law enforcement agencies all use Autopsy to help gather evidence and build their cases with ease and speed. The program is intuitive and user-friendly, meaning that you can learn how to use it in next to no time even if you’re a complete beginner. If you’re a first-timer looking for something simple or you need to verify your findings from elsewhere, Autopsy is the perfect solution.

Oxygen Forensic Detective

Oxygen Forensic Detective is an advanced system that can extract data from multiple sources. Oxygen offers a number of valuable tools, including password extraction, deleted data recovery and screen lock bypassing. This powerful software can also present your data using compelling visualization features, allowing you to show key locations, social connections, timelines and more.

Magnet AXIOM

If you have an enormous amount of information to get through or you need as many sources as you can get, Magnet AXIOM is the answer. This platform from Magnet Forensics boasts that it can search through more sources than any other forensic tool, and does so at impressive speed. Few systems are impossible to penetrate with Magnet Axiom, as it can access data from Windows, Mac, Chrome and Linux, as well as Oxygen, Cellebrite and GrayKey.

Forensic Toolkit

Forensic Toolkit (FTK) is hailed as the gold standard for digital forensics. With a range of impressive imaging features and decryption abilities, FTK can locate, manage and filter data at lightning-fast speed. FTK can decrypt files, recover deleted emails and crack passwords from more than 100 applications and offers full support for Apple products that most other tools cannot. Users also benefit from sophisticated malware support, advanced visualization technology and Explicit Image Detection (EID).

DNA Exonerations

For the last three decades, DNA evidence has transformed policing. While there are many types of forensic evidence that can help solve a case, DNA is a virtually irrefutable source of proof when it comes to blood, semen, saliva and so on. This evidence has proven guilt and innocence time and time again, and fortunately it has allowed miscarriages of justice to be corrected and overturned.

DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid, the chemical name for the molecule holding hereditary material from humans and all living things. This allows scientists to accurately match the DNA evidence to one particular person, as our DNA material is unique to us. If police can find samples at a crime scene and match these to a suspect, it makes for a fairly open and shut case.

It also means that DNA has been able to retroactively exonerate 375 people in the US alone. Serving an average of 14 years, these falsely imprisoned individuals have spent thousands of days behind bars for a crime they did not commit. 21 of these people even served time on death row. A staggering 69% of these cases involved false eyewitness testimony that led to their incarceration, while almost half involved misapplication of forensic science. It may come as no surprise that of the 375 who have so far been exonerated, 225 or 60% were African Americans.

1989 saw the first case of DNA exoneration. Gary Dotson had served ten years in jail after being falsely accused of rape by 16-year-old Cathleen Crowell. A decade later, the alleged victim confessed to fabricating the attack and a forensic serologist confirmed that her and Dotson had not had intercourse.

Other notable DNA exoneration cases include Horace Roberts. At age 60, Roberts was released from prison in 2018 after more than 20 years in custody. DNA testing of evidence left at the crime scene turned up a profile for an unidentified man who was later named as Joaquin Leal. Steven Avery, the subject of Netflix’s ‘Making A Murderer’ documentary, was also exonerated by DNA testing after spending 18 years in jail.

If you’d like to find out more about DNA evidence or how a computer forensic investigator can help prove your innocence, get in touch with ICFECI today.

Autopsy

Getting the facts right is important in any situation, but none more so than in legal cases. Putting a case together and establishing the truth for a client who has been wrongfully accused, for instance, relies on stringent fact-checking  and authentication. That’s why ICFECI and tens of thousands of others use Autopsy, a powerful tool that validates findings from forensic programs like FTK and Oxygen. The open source digital forensics platform is a fast, thorough, and efficient hard drive investigation  solution offering all the core features a forensic investigator needs.

The software is built by Basis Technology, who also offer training, commercial support and add-on modules. Training allows investigators to maximize efficiency and obtain CPE credits, while the subscription-based support grants you access to dedicated engineers providing expert knowledge and timely resolutions. As well as this, users can request custom modules to streamline investigations, access advanced expertise and take advantage of flexible IP models.

Autopsy is designed with ease of use in mind. It’s used by law enforcement, corporate examiners and national security, so making things intuitive and easy to follow is something this program does very well. Everyone wants results fast, and this is another thing Autopsy excels at — the platform runs background tasks in parallel and will show you in minutes if keywords are found on a device. Users can also skip unnecessary,  time intensive steps for a less thorough analysis, and you can also prioritize folders and files you are particularly keen to examine.

Perhaps the greatest feature of Autopsy is its affordability. The software is free to use, and provides a sophisticated forensic tool comparable to other commercial programs. In fact, Autopsy offers other features like web artifact analysis that more costly tools do not.

If you’d like to find out more about Autopsy, feel free to contact ICFECI todav or download for free on their website.

Why become an investigator?

Choosing a career is no easy feat. If you have different hobbies and interests, narrowing these down and picking one job is daunting. There are so many career paths available to us and so many routes we can take to get there, but ultimately the decision is your own. If you’re interested in becoming an investigator or you’re wondering whether computer forensics is your forte, there are a few things to keep in mind first.

Technical expertise

When you’re working with computers, cell phones and other devices, technical expertise is a must. It doesn’t matter how much you like the idea of a job, if you cannot handle the practicalities and advanced technology involved, you’re not likely to be successful. But if you know your way around a PC or you have the capacity to learn, becoming a forensic investigator will suit you perfectly. If you have the skills, training in computer forensics will be a challenge you can face head on.

Helping others

There are many vocations you can follow if helping others is your priority. From nursing and care work to teaching and charity, there is no shortage of job opportunities where you can make a difference. Fortunately, forensic investigation falls in this category too: your work can be the difference between someone going to jail or keeping their freedom, proving their innocence or living in the shadow of doubt. Your work can change the future of families living without their loved ones, and you can ensure the right person is brought to justice and prevent them from committing more crimes. There is no greater way of helping society than by keeping dangerous criminals off the streets, so if helping others is important to you than forensic investigation is a great career path.

Exciting challenges

Forensic investigation is like a puzzle. You have some clues here and there, but it’s your job to gather the information and put the pieces together. If you enjoy crosswords, sudoku, escape rooms, jigsaws or any game that puts your mind to the test, forensic investigation is the career for you. Those who thrive under pressure, readily accept challenges and get satisfaction from a job well done will no doubt enjoy great success as an investigator.

Oxygen Forensic Detective

ICFECI uses a number of programs to solve cases, one of them being Oxygen Forensic Detective. This software is an advanced system that can extract data from multiple sources

  • be it cell phones, hard drives or memory cards, Oxygen can retrieve, decode and analyze information at an impressive

Oxygen offers a number of features that are invaluable for forensic investigators. From discovering data and backing up important evidence to presenting timelines and visualizing key graphs, Oxygen Forensic Detective provides a comprehensive and sophisticated service to solve even the toughest of cases. Features include:

  • Bypassing screen locks
  • Finding passwords
  • Recovering deleted data
  • Facial recognition and image categorization
  • Social links analysis and timeline view
  • User data from apps like Facebook, PayPal, Maps etc
  • Back ups and importing from other forensic tools
  • CDR analysis
  • Locations visualization

One of the fundamental benefits of using Oxygen is the sheer volume of data the program can extract. Gathering evidence has never been easier when the software allows you to retrieve information such as:

  • SMS, MMS, iMessages etc
  • Emails and attachments
  • Photos and videos
  • Audio files
  • Device logs
  • Contacts
  • Call logs
  • Passwords
  • Wi-Fi connections

Once the evidence is uncovered, Oxygen uses intelligent mapping and visualization techniques to show social connections, locations, timelines and more. This gives investigators and clients a clear picture of the case, and allows key information to be presented effectively to authorities, attorneys and juries.

Oxygen Forensic Detective is available on USB dongle for single use, enabling you to connect to one server for 5, 10, 20 or 50 concurrent licenses. This offers an easy, cost effective solution for large organizations which can be scaled according to suite requirements.

To find out more, head to the official website here or get in touch with ICFECI for further

information.

Magnet AXIOM

Magnet Forensics offers a solid workhorse with their program Magnet AXIOM. Whether you’re looking for powerful analytics, impressive reporting tools or something that will probe more sources than any other, this software has an enormous amount of features that will become invaluable to your forensic investigations.

The advancements in technology and the increased access to devices have improved lives no end. This means there is a lot of digital evidence we can get our hands on, however it does mean a lot more work for computer forensic experts.

Using programs that are speedy, efficient and reliable is therefore a huge priority for any invest igat or, which is why Magnet AXIOM comes recommended by so many. This tool allows examiners to quickly and easily go through evidence and build a robust case for their clients, recovering and analyzing data from smartphones, computers, hard drives and so on.

Magnet AXIOM can access information from sources such as Gra yKey, Cellebrite and Oxygen, as well as systems like Window s, Mac, Chrome and Linux. The software can also examine data from the Cloud, retrieving artifacts, user archives and more.

Uncovering evidence has never been easier with text-based and media searches at your disposal, offering you automatic detection for nudity, weapons, drugs etc. The program also allows you to visualize connections between files, users and devices, ensuring you get a full picture of how and when these files have been accessed, where they came from, who they are connected to and where they are sto red.

Finding the evidence that matters, as quickly as possible, is every forensic investigator’s number one goal. With Magnet AXIOM, this process is speedy and simple in the best way possible. For more information, check out their website or send the experts at ICFECI a message.

5 key steps involved in digital forensic science

Digital forensic science in its simplest terms is the process used for examining and interpreting data that can be found on digital devices such as computers, mobile phones, hard drives, and any other device that has internal memory and communication ability. ICFECI has been providing digital forensic services in Dallas and Fort Worth for many years and are experts in this field.

What is digital forensics used for?

Digital forensics is used as a way to provide evidence in a court of law or in civil proceedings to prove or disprove that a crime took place. It is a vital science when dealing with cybercrime but it can be used to provide evidence in other legal cases involving fraud, criminal investigations, and wrongful convictions too.

The process of digital forensics

As is the case with all sciences, digital forensics involves a structured process of steps that are carried out in a particular order to preserve evidence in its original form. The process occurs in the following order:

1. Identification

To begin, it is important to have a clear understanding of the purpose of the investigation and identify what resources will be needed. From this, investigators then need to identify the evidence, what type of data they are dealing with, and what digital devices the data is stored on.

2. Preservation

Next comes the preservation of the evidence found. This means that that the data has to be isolated and preserved and analysts make sure that the device the evidence was located on remains secure and can’t be used by anybody until the investigation is over.

3. Analysis

At this stage, the evidence has to be analyzed and other searches will be carried out to support the initial evidence found. The digital forensic experts will then draw conclusions from what they have discovered and use all the data they have gathered to support their conclusions.

4. Documentation

Now everything has to be documented. The digital and data evidence will often be documented with images, photos, sketches, and a map or timeline of the crime.

5. Presentation

During the final stage of the process, the evidence and conclusions are presented according to the necessary forensic protocols. The presentation will also include details of the methodologies and procedures carried out to explain the analysis and the conclusions that were reached.

If you or someone you care about needs digital forensic services in Texas or digital forensic services in DFW, contact ICFECI today and let our team of experts assist you.

What should I do if I am wrongly accused?

Miscarriages of justice are sadly not as rare as you might expect. Mistakes can happen at any stage of an investigation, and of course sometimes witnesses do not always tell the truth. These cases are tragic not only for the victims and the wrongfully accused, but also for the general public while the perpetrator remains at large.

You might find yourself in this position, or you may be wondering how you can help someone close to you. Although you may feel helpless in this situation, there are steps you can take to give yourself the best chance at fighting a wrongful conviction.

Collect evidence

Proving your innocence is much easier if you have concrete evidence. If you know there are photos, emails or records that can provide an alibi, gather as much of this as you can to present to the authorities. Even if you don’t think you have evidence to exonerate you, it’s important to go through everything you have to make sure there’s nothing you’ve missed or nothing that experts can use to prove your innocence.

Get advice

Seeking legal advice is never a bad idea, and the sooner you do it, the better your chances will be. No matter how much you think you know, there are lawyers out there that have seen and heard everything imaginable. They have been through years of training and experience and will no doubt have come across a case like yours before. Get some advice from them and follow their guidance to ensure your case does not go to trial.

Hire an expert

Evidence is your best shot at proving your innocence, but it’s not always easy to get. That’s why hiring a forensic investigator in Fort Worth is the best solution – these experts can retrieve all sorts of information from a number of devices, even if it’s been hidden, deleted or damaged. Investigators are trained in recovering data that nobody else can, so to give yourself the best chance at avoiding jail time for a crime you didn’t commit, get in touch with ICFECI today.