Category Archives: Forensics

Rude Burials Might Have Fueled Blood Feuds Among Ancient Sonorans

Photo of cacti at sunset
Photo by Tomas Castelazo.

Bodies buried  in unusual postures and without funeral rites could suggest a history of revenge and blood feud in certain ancient Sonoran Desert cultures, according to a paper in the August 2016 edition of Current Anthropology.

The authors say a rude burial would have deeply distressed the victim’s family and community — and sent a message of dominance and defiance. Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:

Haphazard Burials May Suggest Revenge, Blood Feud Among Sonoran Desert Cultures

ASU Lab Takes Deep Dive into Dark Web

So 133t

The time to fix a security flaw is before it’s exploited — just ask the Clinton campaign or the World Anti-Doping Agency. So Arizona State University’s Paulo Shakarian tracks cyber threats to their origins: In the hard-to-access deep web and the secretive dark web.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
ASU Lab Tracking Cyber Threats On Deep Web, Dark Web

Double, Double, Toil and Trouble: 10 Terrible Cases of Mistaken Identity

The real this isn't quite as funny.
Oddly enough, the Katzenjammer Kids are still sometimes implicated.

It’s said that we all have a double somewhere in the world. It’s a haunting thought, but almost comforting compared to the harrowing tales of identity theft we hear on the nightly news. But, hey, we live in the age of fingerprints, DNA and CSI, right? The post-911 world of ever-more Orwellian identification requirements? Surely we’ve left cases of mistaken identity firmly in the past.

You know where this is going …

10 Terrible Cases of Mistaken Identity

Blood Will Tell: A Blood Spatter Analysis Update

Eduard Piotrowski of Poland’s University of Krakow published the first major blood spatter study in 1895, but its impact was limited to a few inventive European sleuths like German chemist Paul Jeserich and French forensic scientist Victor Balthazard. The American legal system did not adopt spatter analysis as evidence until the landmark case of State of Ohio v. Samuel Sheppard, and the field did not truly take off until the 1970s, after forensics expert Herbert MacDonell published his influential Flight Characteristics of Human Blood and Stain Patterns.

Blood spatter analysis has undergone major refinements in methods and language since then, including a recent and growing shift toward incorporating computers. I discuss several of these shifts in my 2015 update of Shanna Freeman’s 2007 article:

How Bloodstain Pattern Analysis Works

The Internet of Things…that Go Bump in the Night

An artist's rendering of the Internet of Things.
Drawing by wilgengebroed.

As sci-fi and techno-horror flicks are fond pointing out, the future is chock-full of things that want to kill us. Yep, our own technological progeny want to consign us to the great bit-bucket in the sky but, hey, at least we were warned, right?

Well, sure, if we had any intention of heeding these cinematic Cassandras. Think about it: The Terminator warns us about Skynet, so what do we do? We set to work on autonomous drones. Christine  frightens us with a possessed 1958 Plymouth Fury, so we get busy designing self-driving cars. It’s like we want to die.

And then there’s the Internet of Things: Trillions of everyday objects exchanging data, everywhere, all the time, with only the most basic human oversight. Can’t wait to see how that one turns out.

10 Nightmare Scenarios From the Internet of Things