News and Current Events

“Cold case” murders are being solved at a record pace with DNA

In the News this week!

Investigators are entering genetic evidence from old, unsolved rape-murders into a publicly accessible database of DNA profiles. Traditionally used by genealogists so they can use genetic matches to distant family to locate family and ancestors is now a tool for law enforcement. The sleuthing combines DNA, birth records, and social-media profiles.

Arguments over privacy were quelled once it was learned this popular site is NOT sharing DNA or other private details of those who submitted their DNA for family history purposes.  The site's popularity is due to its ability to allow DNA results from multiple testing sites be collected and compared in one place.  After loading the DNA from their cold cases, law enforcement finds matched and begins their normal detective work with the match.

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Since the first cold case was broken in April, the floodgates have opened. Genetic genealogy has pointed to a suspect in four more cases, including two this week.

The genealogist behind the last four cases is CeCe Moore, renowned Genetic Genealogist.

Here’s the list so far:

April 25—Police arrested Joseph James DeAngelo for being California’s notorious Golden State Killer.

May 18—Truck driver William Talbott arrested for a 30-year-old double murder in Washington State.

June 22— Gary Hartmen arrested for the murder of a 12-year-old in Tacoma, Washington, in 1986.

June 25—James Otto Earhart named as the suspect in the killing of real estate agent Virginia Freeman. Earhart was put to death in 1999 for a different crime.

June 25—Police arrest Raymond "DJ Freeze" Rowe in the killing of a Pennsylvania school teacher 25 years ago.

Why have the arrest been only of white men?  According to Moore, genealogy databases mostly reflect people of Northern European ancestry. Killers with similar roots are the ones that can most easily be found this way.

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