DNA samples sent to a gene sequencing lab helped solve a three-decade-long case. The Las Vegas police department is using ancestry to find suspects of cold cases.
DNA Samples Solved a Young Girl's Murder Case
According to BBC News, the Las Vegas law enforcement solved the 1989 murder of 14-year-old Stephanie Isaacson by using a small volume of DNA.
The Las Vegas police sent 0.12 nanograms of DNA samples to Othram's gene sequencing laboratory. The standard collection of DNA samples in a kit is 750 nanograms.
Othram used the gene sequences to run through the ancestry database. The result pointed them towards the direction of the suspect's cousin, and there they've identified Darren Roy Marchand as the murderer.
Marchand died in 1995; thus, he can no longer be convicted for his crime.
The Las Vegas police launched the investigation after a local resident named Justin Woo donated money to help them solve cases using DNA levels, according to The Washington Post.
The police sent the sample to Othram in January, and it took the company six months to identify a suspect.
Othram chief David Mittlemen said that the DNA technology could help solve cases that left small DNA samples that were previously deemed unusable.
The breakthrough was also met with criticisms, as some cited concerns that law enforcement may use it to violate privacy, especially when conducting the tests.
The Justice Department has established strict guidelines to prevent abuses in technology and authority.
Ending a 40-Year Hunt
The California police department used the same genomic technology to capture the notorious murderer Joseph James DeAngelo, also called the Golden State Killer. He was convicted of hundreds of cases, including break-ins, rape, and murder.
Although the police have had a DNA profile for DeAngelo for more than four decades now, they never found a matching profile in the national DNA database.
The California police department sent a task force to work with the FBI. They offer new reward money and sought tips from the public.
Even though dozens of detectives and journalists investigated the case together with the police and gave thousands of tips over the years, no name has matched the DNA profile until 2018.
The Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announced that Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested and charged with the murders done by the Golden State Killer. He was 72 years old at the time of his arrest.
The break came after retired investigator Paul Holes used GEDmatch, a free genealogy website.
The public uses GEDmatch to find long lost relatives. It currently has a database of 800,00 DNA profiles, according to The Sacramento Bee.
Sacramento District Attorney Chief Deputy Steve Grippi said that a family member of DeAngelo used the site. After a thorough process, they were able to isolate him as a suspect.
The police collected DNA samples on two occasions that ended up as a match to the ones on their records.
Numerous cold cases are now solved thanks to the new DNA technology that does not need skeletal remains to work. More police departments in the United States may follow the process and finally bring the perpetrators to justice.
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Written by Sophie Webster