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Police reopen 20 year old case based on 400 year old DNA

 
 
Reply Tue 10 Jan, 2012 03:36 pm
... okay, nearly 400 year old DNA.

Quote:
DNA may help Seattle-area sheriff's deputies find a suspect in a 20-year-old killing after a comparison with genealogy records connected a crime-scene sample to a 17th-century Massachusetts family.

The DNA sample was taken in the death of 16-year-old Sarah Yarborough, who was killed on her high school campus in Federal Way, Washington, in December 1991. The King County Sheriff's Office has circulated two composite sketches of a possible suspect -- a man in his 20s at the time with shoulder-length blonde or light brown hair -- but had been unable to put a name to the sketch.

In December, though, the department sent the DNA profile to California-based forensic consultant Colleen Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick compared the profile to others in genealogy databases and found the closest match was to the family of Robert Fuller, who settled in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1630 and had relatives who came over before him on the Mayflower.


How completely weird would it be for them to convict someone because of this?

Would this ever hold up in court?

http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/09/justice/washington-cold-case/index.html
 
engineer
 
  4  
Reply Tue 10 Jan, 2012 03:39 pm
@boomerang,
I think the idea would be to trace down Fuller's decendents, find one the right age who matches the composite sketch and then check his DNA for an exact match. That's an interesting geneology project.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Tue 10 Jan, 2012 03:41 pm
Sounds completely plausible.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  2  
Reply Tue 10 Jan, 2012 03:45 pm
@boomerang,
Personally, I think it's a long shot.

I suspect they're tracing the "Y" chromosome. (That's what my cousin is using to trace family ancestry in Europe.)
0 Replies
 
Joe Nation
 
  3  
Reply Tue 10 Jan, 2012 03:51 pm
It's been done before, not with old DNA, but close matches. Investigators looking for a rapist were frustrated that they didn't have an exact match for the DNA they had recovered from the victims. What they did have was a very near match, something in the range of less than 1%, to a man who lived near all the victims but who also had airtight alibis for all of the incident times and place.
He also had an older brother who lived in the same house.
Police obtained a DNA sample from the brother.
Bingo.

Joe(as they say around the precinct)Nation
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Tue 10 Jan, 2012 04:52 pm
I think it's a long shot too, but wouldn't it be amazing.

The girl who was killed was in high school so I'm sure her parents are still around and happy to see the case reopened. It would be great if they could catch the guy who killed her.
0 Replies
 
shewolfnm
 
  2  
Reply Tue 10 Jan, 2012 05:15 pm
I would almost go so far as to say I would not CARE how far back they would have to trace, or where they got their start so long as they convicted the RIGHT person....

having said that, i can only imagine what that would submit us to in this modern age so that creating that sort of trap for generations to come would be in place..
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Jan, 2012 05:51 pm
@shewolfnm,
I think there are probably a lot of ways to verify the right person. Tracking down the descendants, seeing who was in the area, getting a DNA sample from that person, checking for a match.

It really isn't a trap if the person is guilty.

Being suspected of murder can seriously gum up a person's life though.
0 Replies
 
Baldimo
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Jan, 2012 06:54 pm
They were able to confirm the ID of the BTK killer because his daughter submitted her DNA. She thought he dad was the guy and it turns out she was right. I know father/daughter dna is a whole let closer then DNA from 400 years ago, but it would seem that there is already some sort of president set.
Lustig Andrei
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Jan, 2012 07:28 pm
@Baldimo,
Yeh,them presidents is all set and a-settin' purty.
surovi
 
  0  
Reply Tue 10 Jan, 2012 11:40 pm
@boomerang,
pls again send ur question
0 Replies
 
Baldimo
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2012 03:17 pm
@Lustig Andrei,
Sorry was my spelling wrong?
Lustig Andrei
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2012 03:18 pm
@Baldimo,
I believe you meant 'precedent' not 'president'.
Baldimo
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2012 04:25 pm
@Lustig Andrei,
Your are correct.
EDIT:

They were able to confirm the ID of the BTK killer because his daughter submitted her DNA. She thought he dad was the guy and it turns out she was right. I know father/daughter dna is a whole let closer then DNA from 400 years ago, but it would seem that there is already some sort of precedent set.

Do you now have a comment Lustig or was a spelling correction it?
Lustig Andrei
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2012 05:03 pm
@Baldimo,
Nope. That was it. Good work.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2012 07:16 pm
There are a lot of times when the police will get a break in an investigation which doesn't actually finger an individual, but leads them to that individual, so that they can build their case from evidence which is suggested by the individual they now suspect. That may sound a little complex, but the point is they don't need to use the 400 year old DNA as evidence, but just to get next to the joker.
Lustig Andrei
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2012 07:36 pm
@Setanta,
Right. That's something a lot of people don't understand. They immediately ask, "Will it stand up in court?" Chances are that sort of evidence will never be brought into court. It merely serves as a useful investigative tool, a "lead", if you will, of where to look for evidence and find something that will stand up in court.
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Jan, 2012 10:28 am
@Lustig Andrei,
My question on this thread is would you turn over your DNA if ask due to being a member of a family tree going back that far or not?

I question if they could get any judge ever born to grant them a search warrant ordering you to turn over a DNA sample base on your family tree going back 400 years.

DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Jan, 2012 11:32 am
@BillRM,
Seeing as how folks shed DNA all of the time, I'm not sure how hard they're going to have to work to get a search warrant.
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Jan, 2012 11:33 am
@Baldimo,
Baldimo wrote:
father/daughter dna

I guess that eliminates my theory about it just being the "Y" chromosome.

I suppose it was silly to conclude that genealogy research and criminal investigations would be similar.
0 Replies
 
 

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