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National Forensic Science Week: OSP Forensic Services Division DNA Unit - Forensic Scientist Heather Feaman

August 12, 2013


From crime scene processing to fingerprints to DNA analysis to digital forensics, forensic scientists provide law enforcement with reliable leads that help identify the guilty and exonerate the innocent. The Oregon State Police is proud of our Forensic Services Division employees and joins the International Association Chiefs of Police, the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agenices, the Major County Sheriffs Association and the Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations in recognizing the significant contribution of forensic science professionals in Oregon and throughout the United States during National Forensic Science Week, August 11 - 17, 2013.

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Forensic Scientist Heather Feaman has worked at the Oregon State Police (OSP) Portland laboratory for 7 years and works in the DNA Unit where she performs DNA testing on biological samples for criminal cases. During her career she has worked on many high profile cases and testified in many Oregon counties during criminal trials.

Prior to joining the OSP Forensic Services Division, Heather was a research specialist at the Children's Hospital in Los Angeles. Heather received her B.A. degree at the University of Southern California and her Master of Science degree in Criminalistics and Forensic Science at California State University in Los Angeles. She is a member of the Northwest Association of Forensic Scientists and the American Academy of Forensic Scientists.

Earlier this year, the OSP Forensic Services Division DNA Analysis Program hit a milestone when the CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) recorded its 5,000th "hit", generating investigative leads based on DNA recovered from crime scene evidence.

OSP Portland Forensic Lab Director Tom Barnes credited the success of the database program with the combination of in-house offender profile analysis and increased casework productivity of the DNA section. A large majority of the hits obtained have been from the analysis of evidence from property crimes, although the database has also been instrumental in violent crime cases, too.

Since the first CODIS hit in 1994 on a rape case, the OSP Forensic Services Division staff has helped investigating law enforcement agencies solve many puzzling and serious crimes including 1999 Portland Forest Park killer (Todd Allen Reed), Interstate 5 serial killer (Randall Woodfield), and the British Columbia “Highway of Tears” murders (Bobby Jack Fowler).

 
Approximately 800 to 1,000 new samples are received each month. For every 43 offenders processed the OSP Forensic Services Division gets a hit on a case. These hits during the last 18 years has aided investigations in 35 of Oregon’s 36 counties, 42 other states across the nation, and a recent hit that solved a 1970’s homicide in British Columbia, Canada. 

 

After the 1,000th hit occurred twelve years later in 2006, it took just seven years to reach the 5,000th hit milestone.
 
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