Category Archives: Familial

How Much Does DNA Change Our Life Story?

Until 2016, when my father’s doctor told us he was dying of pancreatic cancer. With the internet’s capacity for ancestral research and the boom in DNA testing, my sisters and I decided it was time to give my father the gift of genomic closure.

DNA Detectives: Scientists combining forensics with genealogy break ‘unsolvable’ cases

(InvestigateTV) – Thanks to a breakthrough in how DNA is used, more than 1,000 collective years worth of cold cases across the U.S. have been solved in just the last nine months.
Police are teaming up with genealogists to track killers through their blood lines.

Sooner or Later Your Cousin’s DNA Is Going to Solve a Murder

In the year since the arrest of the man believed to be the notorious Golden State Killer, the world of criminal investigation has been radically transformed.
Using an unconventional technique that relies on DNA submitted to online genealogy sites, investigators have solved dozens of violent crimes, in many cases decades after they hit dead ends. Experts believe the technique could be used to revive investigations into a vast number of cases that have gone cold across the country, including at least 100,000 unsolved major violent crimes and 40,000 unidentified bodies.

Two murders stumped police for 40 years. The key was sitting in a bathroom cabinet.

Using updated DNA techniques, including genealogical research, investigators have tied Martinez to the two crimes. But as the San Luis Obispo Tribune reported on Wednesday, solving the decades-old killings also hinged on something so common that it’s found in nearly every household — a cluttered bathroom medicine cabinet.

An unsolved homicide haunted a city for decades. Officials say the killer was there all along.

On a cold, snowy night 45 years ago in Billings, Mont., someone entered the home of Clifford and Linda Bernhardt and brutally killed them.
The 24-year-olds had saved for years to build a home and finally settled down on the quaintly named Dorothy Lane in the fall of 1973. It turned out their time there would be brief and would end in unspeakable tragedy.

The Technology 202: Consumers advocates want Washington to tackle ‘Wild West’ of DNA test kits

A consumer advocacy group leader says it’s time for Washington lawmakers to set some rules in the “Wild West” of at-home DNA testing kits.
Following a report that Family Tree DNA gave the FBI access to its vast genetic database, Sally Greenberg, the executive director of the National Consumers League, says Congress must make sure people are aware of the broad privacy implications of using these common services. Most people who buy DNA kits think they’re learning about their ancestors or relatives, Greenberg says, and they don’t know that companies often have sweeping terms of service agreements that allow them to share customer genetic data with law enforcement or other companies.

Police revived a 1973 murder case by live-tweeting a girl’s last day. Now, a DNA match has led to an arrest.

On the day Linda Ann O’Keefe died, it was a cooler-than-normal July morning in Newport Beach, Calif. The brown-haired, blue-eyed 11-year-old got a ride to summer school — about half a mile away — but had to walk home in the afternoon.
It was July 6, 1973, a Friday. When O’Keefe didn’t return home right away, there was little concern at first. But when night fell and her whereabouts were still unknown, her parents called police and desperately combed the neighborhood, to no avail.

Bill seeks to prohibit using DNA databases to solve crime

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — After police used a new technique to arrest a man suspected of being the Golden State Killer, a Maryland legislator proposed a law that would prohibit use of a familial DNA database for the purpose of crime-solving.
House bill 30, sponsored by Delegate Charles Sydnor, D-Baltimore County, seeks to prohibit searches of consumer genealogical databases for the purpose of identifying an offender in connection with a crime through their biological relative’s DNA samples.

New Investigative Approach Helps Solve Minnesota Cold Cases Through DNA ‘Family Tree’

The Minnesota BCA, in unsolved cold cases, is using a relatively new DNA technology to help them track down elusive criminals in the state’s felony DNA database.
BCA Superintendent, Drew Evans, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the so-called “Familial DNA” technology has only been used in four cases so far in Minnesota because it is used as a last resort in unsolved cases.

Golden State Killer caught using relative’s DNA from genealogy websites, prosecutors say

…The district attorney’s office “explored online family trees that appeared to have matches to DNA samples from the East Area Rapist’s crimes,” The Sacramento Bee reported. “They then followed clues to individuals in family trees to determine whether they were potential suspects.”…

Arizona Police Find Murder Suspect Using Familial DNA

Scottsdale, AZ, police arrested 42-year-old Ian L. Mitcham for the February 2015 murder of Scottsdale resident Allison Feldman. His arrest in Phoenix Tuesday morning marked the culmination of an intense three-year investigation into Feldman’s death. A familial DNA search ultimately led to the arrest, according to a Scottsdale, AZ, press release.
On Feb. 18, 2015, a woman soon identified as 31-year-old Allison Feldman was found dead, and her death was quickly determined to be a homicide. A DNA profile was developed from evidence at the scene, but unfortunately no match was found in the current databases.

Familial DNA Approved In New York State

The parents of slain jogger Karina Vetrano received further solace on Friday after the New York State Commission on Forensic Science announced that the familial-DNA genetic search tool can now be utilized in the state.
Phil and Cathy Vetrano had been advocates of the policy for months; they held a press conference on February 3 during which they endorsed the tool, which searches law-enforcement DNA databases for relatives of a genetic profile that forensics build at the scene of a crime.

Saliva helps detectives solve double murder case

LOS ANGELES — Detectives say saliva helped solve a multiple murder case that eluded investigators for six years in Southern California.
CBS Los Angeles reports police arrested 32-year-old Geovanni Borjas on Tuesday in connection with the rapes and murders of 22-year-old Bree’Anza Guzman and 17-year-old Michelle Lozano.

State forensic panel to fine tune familial DNA proposal

A special state subcommittee Friday will be fine tuning a proposal for New York State to use familial searching, an emerging DNA technique used to solve cold case homicides around the country.
The DNA subcommittee of the New York State Commission on Forensic Science will be voting on details of the plan to use familial searching, proposals that have been in the works since the beginning of the year. Under proposed guidelines, special DNA analysis will be allowed in cases of homicide, rape, arson and crimes involving “a significant public safety threat.”

State Police Crime Lab eyes familial DNA searching, a controversial crime-solving tool

The Louisiana State Police Crime Lab is preparing to expand its criminal DNA testing to include a controversial technique known as familial searching, a tool that could breathe new life into aging cold cases by identifying close relatives of suspects.
Louisiana intends to join a growing list of states that over the past decade have cautiously adopted the technique, which has been hailed by detectives as a potential game-changer in solving crimes but has been assailed by critics as ethically and legally questionable.