Saturday, December 10, 2016

Using DNA Databases to Solve the Identity of Unidentified Bodies and Family Members of Serial Killers

The Boy in the Box mystery might eventually be solved using DNA.  The DOE Network profile on him indicates that DNA was extracted in the 1990s--hopefully an updated DNA test could yield more clues?

Friend and "Ancestry Island" blog reader Bonnie brought up an interesting question the other day about what the genealogy community has to say about using the DNA matches of family members to search for killers.  I myself have often wondered if the genetic DNA databases like Ancestry and Family Tree DNA have been used to solve unidentified body cases.  Are some of my DNA matches to unidentified dead people?

A Google search revealed that this practice of using the DNA of family members is called "familial DNA searching" (an example of the phrase can be found in the recent AP: Big Story article "Could familial DNA crack case of slain New York City jogger?").

As Bonnie pointed out, DNA databases seem like an obvious place to look but there are legal objections that must also be considered.  Forensic genealogy (defined by the Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy as "genealogical research, analysis, and reporting in cases with legal implications") is the most likely genealogical field to be involved with familial DNA searching.

The National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC) has a page Forensic DNA Education for Law Enforcement Decision Makers that includes an overview about familial DNA searching.

Some cases solved with familial DNA searching, plus a pro and con discussion, can be found here at DNA Forensics: News and Information about DNA Databases.

© 2016 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, thanks Xine! The Boy in the Box story is very interesting, and it seems like they are still working on it. More disturbing is the recent murder of the jogger, as whoever killed her is still out there, and will most certainly kill another woman or two or three, and may have already. I sincerely hope that the decision is made that preventing murders is more important than the possible privacy rights violations of people with dna matches. I know if I thought my dna would help find a killer, I would be first in line to volunteer. Of course, my dna is already on file, so is available. I hope you will continue this line of research!
    bonnie (yes, its me)