Crime labs are using modern forensics useful in identifying decayed bodies to try solving decades-old Mafia deaths, reports USA Today. In Chicago, FBI technicians used a court order to obtain DNA from reputed mob figure Joseph “the Clown” Lombardo in a 1974 slaying investigation. Lombardo attorney Rick Halprin believes the FBI has obtained DNA from potential suspects in at least three other slayings linked to organized crime, dating to 1970. In New York City last year, the medical examiner’s office used DNA analysis to identify the decomposed bodies of two Mafia figures buried in a marshy lot near John F. Kennedy International Airport.
The Mafia cases show how advances in DNA analysis are allowing authorities to reach back years, even decades, to revive “cold” cases. Recent developments in mitochondrial DNA analysis, a technique that focuses on DNA extracted from hair and bone fragments, have led investigators to take fresh looks at homicides, rapes, and other crimes in which biological evidence was found on buried or degraded bodies.