Webinar - How to Thaw out Cold Cases using DNA

Title: How to Thaw out Cold Cases using DNA

Date: October 22, 2019

Time:  3pm Dublin/London

Many laboratories process cold cases in one facet or another, but what is a "cold" case and how does one go about processing it? In this webinar, Lisa Mertz and Heather Nelson-O'Connor from OCME, will discuss testing methods used at the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner, as well as encourage other laboratories to share their specialised types of testing.  

They will further discuss advancements over the past 15-20 years in the field of forensic science and DNA. Specialised 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.

Lisa Mertz

Lisa Mertz
Criminalist Level IV, Senior Supervisor, Cold Case Liaison
OCME

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-O'Connor

Heather Nelson-O'Connor
Criminalist Level IV, Senior Supervisor
OCME

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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