Sorenson Forensics today launched its new Investigative Law Enforcement Ancestry DNA Test (Investigative LEAD), putting cutting-edge genetic profiling expertise into the hands of investigators trying to identify unknown criminal suspects and victims. The forensics company unveiled Investigative LEAD during the American Academy of Forensic Science Conference in Chicago held during the week of February 21-26.
Sorenson Forensics' Executive Director Timothy D. Kupferschmid says Investigative LEAD may prove to be the DNA-based equivalent to the criminal composite drawings used to help track down suspects from witness descriptions. The difference: Investigative LEAD does not need anything but a genetic sample to give investigators a graphical representation of a suspect or victim's genetic affinity to five major populations.
"The human genome provides ancestral information markers (AIMs) we can correlate to their ancestral roots," Kupferschmid says. "We propose using this product to find out the genetic ancestry of someone who is a suspect in a case where there is no eyewitness – or to help identify a victim whose remains may have experienced significant deterioration."
Since its founding in 2006, Sorenson Forensics has assisted more than 100 police departments and overworked crime laboratories across the U.S in solving so-called "cold cases". The company's growing reputation for excellence has also spread internationally with a world-wide clientele: Sorenson Forensics helped the Libyan government identify victims of the May 12, 2010 Afriqiyah Airways crash, the Thai government identify victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, and has helped Senegal and Nigeria create national forensic DNA laboratories.
Sorenson Forensics conducted extensive trials of Investigative LEAD over the past 18 months. In one study, DNA oral swabs were collected from volunteers within Salt Lake County's Unified Police Department, and subsequent results were uncanny in their accuracy.
"All we had to work with were the DNA samples. We didn't know the volunteers' identities; even whether they were male or female, but we were able to appropriately correlate the genetic ancestry of each volunteer based upon what they knew about their own genealogy. The results have been very convincing," Kupferschmid says.
Investigative LEAD bases its results on specific genetic markers found in five major reference populations, including Western Europe, Eastern Asia, Western Africa, the Indian Subcontinent and Indigenous America. Data from the test also allows Sorensen Forensics' team of DNA experts to report percentages of likely ancestral mixtures.
In addition to its international reputation for crime lab know-how, Sorenson Forensics offers DNA case reviews, expert witness testimony, validation services, and evidence screening, along with forensic DNA testing.
For more information about Investigative LEAD, visit www.sorensonforensics.com.