DNA And Genetic Genealogy Help Solve Numerous Cold Cases

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With the recent apprehension of the Golden State Killer, a man who raped over 50 women and murdered over a dozen people, police are now considering genetic genealogy a game-changer. According to ABC News, cold cases across the country are being solved because of genetic genealogy and its ability to analyze unknown DNA against distant relatives to solve crimes.

Recently, the case of Michella Welch was solved using DNA found on a “discarded napkin.” The 32-year-old cold case baffled local detectives until 2016 when they started working with a genetic genealogist. They matched the DNA and after the surveillance, police arrested a 66-year-old man. Welch’s mother, who received the news of the arrest on June 20, said that “the news sent chills down her spine.”

In 1988, 8-year-old April Tinsley disappeared from her neighborhood in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Three days later, her body was found in a ditch. She had been strangled, and there were indications of sexual assault. Over the years, the case has “haunted the community.” But last Sunday, as ABC News reported, 59-year-old John Miller was arrested after genetic DNA lead authorities to Miller, whose DNA had been found on Tinsley’s underwear and in condoms abandoned in the area. When police arrived at Miller’s home and asked if they knew why they wanted to speak with him, Miller simply said “April Tinsley.”

The 1992 murder of Christy Mirack, 25, was also solved using genetic DNA after police matched the DNA on gum and a water bottle to 49-year-old Raymond Rowe, a local DJ whose stage name is “DJ Freez,” As ABC News also reported. Mirack’s body was discovered in her home after co-workers noticed she did not arrive at the school where she worked. When that co-worker arrived at her house, Mirack was found sexually assaulted, strangled, and beaten with a wooden cutting board. DNA found at the scene was sent for testing. A “DNA phenotype ‘composite’ of the killer’s attributes” was generated and in 2017, it was uploaded to a genetic genealogy database, where the DNA matched against relatives of Rowe’s.

“It is a huge step toward providing long-overdue closure for Christy’s family and friends,” Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said.

There have been six cases solved this year by genetic DNA alone. Experts are now saying this is “a turning point for crime-solving in the country.”

CeCe Moore, chief genetic genealogist with Parabon NanoLabs, called genetic DNA a “game-changer.”

“In a genetic genealogy database, we can reverse engineer the [suspect’s family] tree from their distant cousins who have tested. So it doesn’t matter that they haven’t had their DNA tested through another arrest or crime scene, we don’t need their DNA. We need somebody from their family to have tested in order to resolve these cases,” Moore said.