FEATURED ARTICLES
NEWS
April 25, 2002 | By Faye Flam INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
The coiled molecules of DNA in human cells carry a unique chemical code that can match a trace of blood, semen, skin or hair to the person who left it. DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) carries its code in four characters denoted by the letters A,T, C, and G. But no microscope is powerful enough to see how this code is arranged on a given DNA molecule, so science must use more indirect methods to read it. Forensics laboratories use several different methods for determining whether two samples indeed carry identical stretches of code.
LIVING
July 3, 2000 | By Faye Flam, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
They seemed unlikely candidates to make one of the pivotal discoveries of the 20th century. Francis H.C. Crick was a 35-year-old Ph.D. candidate who had abandoned physics, hoping to find his niche in biology. James D. Watson was a gawky-looking 24-year-old who rarely bothered to tie his shoelaces. Both scientists were supposed to be working on other things, but they believed fervently that the most important scientific problem of their time was the mystery of inheritance - how everything from diseases to hair color to the very instructions to make a human being was passed on from generation to generation.
NEWS
June 3, 2004 | By Thomas J. Gibbons Jr. INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
A man arrested recently in Puerto Rico for domestic offenses resembles the composite of the Fairmount Park rapist, city police said yesterday, adding that the suspect has lived in Philadelphia. As a result, the man, whose name was not released, has agreed to provide DNA that will be compared with evidence collected in the murder and rape of medical student Rebecca Park in Fairmount Park and the rape of another woman off Kelly Drive. The Fairmount Park assailant is also suspected of a third attack on the West River Drive in which the victim managed to fight off her attacker.
NEWS
October 12, 2006 | By Pam Lobley
Do you have the feeling you're related to someone famous? Maybe it's an uncanny sense that Mozart was your ancestor. Or that Genghis Khan might be in your family tree. That affinity you feel for ancient Rome can't be an accident, can it? Touring the toppled ruins of columns and friezes in the ancient city stirs something in you. Perhaps one or your ancestors was one of those emperors, or perhaps just a Roman soldier. It's in your blood. Now, with a simple swab of your cheek and a few hundred dollars, you can find out. Commercial genetic genealogy is barely five years old, but already it is proving irresistible to many.
NEWS
June 16, 2013 | By Evi Heilbrunn, For The Inquirer
In a narrow ruling June 3, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the DNA swabbing of people arrested in connection with serious crimes is legal. The Maryland attorney general praised DNA swabbing as the 21st-century equivalent of fingerprinting and said it would help solve crimes. No doubt. But the ruling represents yet another way our DNA is slipping beyond our control even as few standards exist for its use, storage, and destruction. The implications are laid out in Biotechnology in Our Lives , the latest book from the Council for Responsible Genetics, a Cambridge, Mass., nonprofit focused on the ethics of gene research and biotechnology.
NEWS
October 7, 2015 | By Ben Finley, Inquirer Staff Writer
In what officials say is the nation's first such countywide effort, Bucks County police departments announced Tuesday that they have created a database of DNA samples collected from accused or suspected criminals. The mouth swabs for the database are collected on a voluntary basis, with police requesting them from those who have been arrested or from suspects. The aim is to catch criminals who often fly under the radar of national and state DNA databases, which contain the genetic material of more hardened felons and sex offenders forced to submit DNA samples.
NEWS
November 4, 2011 | BY MORGAN ZALOT, zalotm@phillynews.com 215-854-5928
POLICE yesterday announced the arrest of a man who allegedly raped a 40-year-old woman outside the Linc during an Oct. 5, 2008, Eagles-Redskins game. "It was obviously a real challenge for us because of the number of people in and around that stadium," Special Victims Unit Capt. John Darby said yesterday. "It's almost like finding a needle in a haystack. " Police said they arrested Tiaghgee Daughtry, 22, who lives in Tunkhannock, Pa., near Scranton, on Wednesday, for allegedly raping the woman on a bus during the game.
NEWS
December 26, 1996 | By Michael E. Ruane, INQUIRER WASHINGTON BUREAU
No one really knows what happened to Phil Purcell's plane that day in September 1963 over Kontum, Vietnam. A relief pilot saw him turn his ancient B-26 back toward Da Nang. But he never arrived - plunging, instead, into the highlands below and vanishing beneath the oncoming tide of history. For three decades, as his bones and those of his crewmates moldered in Vietnam, as his children grew up and his wife remarried, the story of who he was lay locked in his body's DNA, like a song waiting to be heard.
NEWS
June 4, 2000 | By Pearl Duncan
Why do visions of war and hacked, stub-limbed civilians from Africa fail to move us as much as the images of civilians under attack in other parts of the world? I contend that we - whites, blacks and blends - are less moved by images from Africa because we've lost the emotional connection with the branch of the African human family tree. Geneticists recently have published results that say we all share the same DNA with slight variations based on traumas and the places we've passed through, via our ancestors.
NEWS
November 4, 1998 | by Nicole Weisensee, Daily News Staff Writer
For 41 years, the boy in the box has rested in his pauper's grave - unidentified, his murder unsolved. Yesterday, in a final attempt to find his killer, police removed him from his solitary grave in a potter's field in Northeast Philadelphia. They took his body to the medical examiner's office, where technicians will try to extract DNA from his remains. They hope such evidence will help identify him and eventually help nail his killer. "It's hard but it's been done before," said Lt. Ken Coluzzi, head of the special investigations unit at the police Homicide Division.
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ARTICLES BY DATE
NEWS
March 17, 2016
By Susan FitzGerald It was great to be Irish in Sister Cornelius' class. When St. Patrick's Day rolled around, Sister Cornelius would tick off the names of the students in her math class who were exempt from homework that night. A wisp of a nun, Sister Cornelius spoke in a heavy brogue. Miss FitzGerald. . . Mr. McFadden... Mr. Rowan. . . Only a few lucky souls made the cut based on the sound of our names. The rest of the class was left with algebra equations to solve.
NEWS
March 5, 2016 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Staff Writer
Calling it an "intolerable mistake" but not a prosecution attempt to subvert a fair trial, a city judge has refused to bar the retrial of a North Philadelphia man whose 2007 death sentence was invalidated because of a mix-up in DNA evidence. Lawyers for Kareem Johnson, 31, argued Thursday that the DNA mix-up that resulted in his death sentence in the 2002 shooting of Walter Smith was so egregious that retrial should be barred under the Constitution's "double jeopardy" provision, which bars successive trials for the same conduct.
NEWS
March 1, 2016
A new trial for Anthony Wright, who has spent 23 years in prison, begins this week. Maybe this time justice will be served. Wright recanted his confession soon after his arrest in the 1991 slaying murder and rape of a 77-year-old Nicetown widow. Wright said he signed the confession written by a detective without even reading it after police chained him to a chair and threatened him. Improvements in DNA testing could have freed Wright, but District Attorney Lynne Abraham continually fought defense requests to have that done.
NEWS
February 18, 2016 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Staff Writer
The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office has decided not to seek the death penalty in the retrial of a North Philadelphia man whose 2007 death sentence was invalidated after discovery of a mix-up in DNA evidence. Assistant District Attorney Andrew Notaristefano announced the decision at a hearing Tuesday for Kareem Johnson, 31, convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in the 2002 shooting of Walter Smith, 39, outside a North Philadelphia bar. Smith, a barber, was a potential witness in a murder case against Johnson's friend.
NEWS
January 22, 2016 | By Ronnie Polaneczky, Daily News Columnist
THE DAY AFTER her little sister's funeral, Crystal Smith searched the piles of condolence cards her family had received. She was desperate to find something from Christopher Bloomfield. She also reread the small notes that accompanied the flowers that had crowded the funeral home. She hoped one of the arrangements was from Bloomfield, to express his sorrow that Sabrina had died. "I prayed so hard that he would've found it in his heart to say he was sorry," says Smith. But there was nothing from Bloomfield, who was behind the wheel of a 2007 Acura last July 29 when it jumped a curb on a tight bend of Sandmeyer Lane, a well-known drag-racing strip in a Northeast Philly industrial park.
NEWS
October 8, 2015 | BY DANA DiFILIPPO, Daily News Staff Writer difilid@phillynews.com, 215-854-5934
ONE DAY IN JULY, police in Bensalem, Bucks County, interrupted a burglary in progress and caught two suspects. Eleven days later and 10 miles north, someone threw a rock through a window to get into a Falls Township home and steal three handguns. In the past, investigators might have been hard-pressed to solve the second break-in, let alone link it to the first. But thanks to a new countywide, multijurisdictional DNA database, cops had cracked both cases within weeks, after finding DNA evidence at the Falls burglary that proved the Bensalem baddie was behind both crimes.
NEWS
October 7, 2015 | By Ben Finley, Inquirer Staff Writer
In what officials say is the nation's first such countywide effort, Bucks County police departments announced Tuesday that they have created a database of DNA samples collected from accused or suspected criminals. The mouth swabs for the database are collected on a voluntary basis, with police requesting them from those who have been arrested or from suspects. The aim is to catch criminals who often fly under the radar of national and state DNA databases, which contain the genetic material of more hardened felons and sex offenders forced to submit DNA samples.
NEWS
September 24, 2015 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Inquirer Staff Writer
It's been three years since two masked gunmen shot and killed Nafis Armstead and wounded another man in East Mount Airy. And a year has gone by since 22-year-old Brian Tootle was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole in the death of Armstead, 23. On Tuesday, a Philadelphia judge ordered Aka Jones, 24, to be tried after a prosecutor said Jones' DNA had been found on a discarded gun used in the shooting and his...
NEWS
September 11, 2015 | BY DANA DiFILIPPO, Daily News Staff Writer difilid@phillynews.com, 215-854-5934
WHEN A MONSTER snatched her beautiful teenage daughter off the street, raped, beat and strangled her and then left her like trash in a vacant Kensington house, a homicide investigator warned 17-year-old Anjeanette Maldonado's mourning family that bringing her killer to justice could take time. "The first detective told me: 'You're going to have to wait. You have to be patient.' I thought he meant next week," Anjeanette's mother Paulette Smith, 59, said yesterday. Now, nearly 19 years after Anjeanette was murdered on her walk to school, Smith's long wait for justice has ended.
NEWS
September 10, 2015 | By Tom Avril, Inquirer Staff Writer
In 1944, before anyone knew what DNA looked like, a young graduate student sought to learn more about genetic mutations by irradiating 50,000 bacteria with ultraviolet light. Most of the cells in Evelyn M. Witkin's petri dishes died in the process. But four were somehow resistant, and her subsequent insights would prove fundamental in helping the world understand how living things protect themselves from radiation and DNA damage. On Tuesday, Witkin, 94, was honored with a prestigious Lasker award for her long career, the last decades of which took place at Rutgers University.
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