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How to Thaw out Cold Cases Using DNA

What you will learn:

  • Why cold cases are important to re-examine and process for testing using current technology
  • How the NYC OCME processes cold cases using DNA and the opportunity to learn how other laboratories process these cases
  • What the future holds for cold cases and what to consider when using technology of the "future"

Summary

Many laboratories process cold cases in one facet or another, but what is a "cold" case and how does one go about processing it? This webinar will be an interactive tool to assist government and private laboratories in the processing of cold cases. In the webinar, we will discuss testing methods used at the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner, as well as encourage other laboratories to share their specialized types of testing. We will further discuss advancements over the past 15-20 years in the field of forensic science and DNA. Specialized protocols used at the OCME, such as retrieving exogenous DNA from fingernails in cases where there was close contact with perpetrators and obtaining touch DNA from clothing, will be highlighted. Lastly, the presentation will focus on the constraints that laboratories face in starting a cold case unit and the limitations they encounter.  What a laboratory considers “solving” a cold case will be explored as well as the status of future technologies that might be useful in solving cold cases.


Speakers

lisa-mertz-125x125

Lisa Mertz
Criminalist Level IV, Senior Supervisor, Cold Case Liasion
NYC Office of Chief Medical Examiner

Lisa Mertz developed her DNA experience in her previous employment working as a Molecular Laboratory Manager and Supervisor in the DNA laboratory at the Museum of Natural History. She has worked at the OCME in the Forensic Biology Department for approximately 14 years as a criminal casework analyst, supervisor, and cold case liaison. She has written and technically reviewed thousands of casework files of various crime types and has testified as an expert witness over 70 times in all courts in all the boroughs of New York City. In addition to her responsibilities at the OCME, Lisa is an ANAB DNA technical assessor and a FEPAC Assessor, and was a member of TWG back, the New York State technical working group on DNA backlog reduction.

heather-nelson-oconnor-125x125

Heather Nelson-O'Connor
Criminalist Level IV, Senior Supervisor
NYC Office Chief Medical Examiner

Heather Nelson-O'Connor started her DNA career working as a DNA analyst at the Connecticut State Forensics Lab. She has worked at the OCME in the Forensic Biology Department for approximately 13 years as a criminal casework analyst and supervisor. She has written and technically reviewed thousands of casework files of various crime types and has testified as an expert witness over 50 times in all courts in all the boroughs of New York City and also in Carbon County, Montana. Heather has been interictally involved and testified in high profile cold cases at the OCME. In addition to her responsibilities at the OCME, Heather is an ANAB DNA technical assessor.

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