It was four days before Christmas in 1992, and 25-year-old Christy Mirack was on her way to the elementary school where she worked as a sixth grade teacher. She had prepared Christmas presents for her students and co-workers, and she had already put on her coat and gloves, ready to walk out into the December chill in Lancaster, PA. But before she could leave her apartment, an intruder forced his way in, raped her, and murdered her in her living room. And for more than 25 years, the case had stumped police. Then, investigators turned to genetic genealogy. The technique compares the DNA of an unknown suspect left at a crime scene with DNA from family genealogy databases to find, if not a direct match, a distant relative that may lead to one. In the case of Mirack's murder, that distant relative led to Raymond Charles Rowe, a popular DJ in central Pennsylvania, who performed under the name DJ Freez. Rowe pleaded guilty Tuesday to raping and strangling Mirack and was sentenced to life … [Read more...] about Using genetic genealogy to convict Raymond Charles Rowe
I gave a talk at the Brookdale Public Library last night as part of the celebration of DNA day. DNA Day, or DNAD for short, was created about the time of the "completion" (more or less) of the Human Genome in 2003, and is set to be on the date of the publication of the famous research on the structure of DNA. The point of the talk was to link behavioral biology and the anthropological study of kinship with the practice of conducting personal genealogy. There was a time when I did a fair amount of genealogical research, in connection with historic archaeology, which in turn was part of writing environmental impact assessments for publicly funded projects such as sewer systems, power plants, road improvements, and such. It is useful to know something about the people who lived on affected properties (or in affected buildings) back in the 18th or 19th century when assessing the potential significance of cultural resources, and genealogical research is part of that. Also, property … [Read more...] about Does Your Genealogy Reveal Amazing Anthropological Stories?
The notion of using genetic ancestry databases to solve crimes recently crossed from hypothetical into credible when police used an online genealogical database to track down the alleged Golden State Killer, a serial criminal who terrorized much of California in the 1970s and 1980s. Now, in a study published October 11 in Cell, researchers are reporting ways in which that type of inquiry could potentially be expanded. Specifically, they have published a computational method for linking individuals in ancestry databases to those in law-enforcement databases. These two databases use completely different systems of genetic markers. The investigators report in a proof of principle with 872 people that for close relatives -- either sibling or parent-offspring pairs -- more than 30% can be accurately matched with the correct relative using nonoverlapping genetic markers from the two different databases. "There's a legacy problem in that so many DNA profiles have been collected with this … [Read more...] about Computational model links family members using genealogical and law-enforcement databases
Story highlights Increasingly, it will be possible to re-identify someone based on an "anonymous" DNA sample By combining information from multiple databases, identifications can be made A similar technique was used to identify the Golden State Killer suspect (CNN)In the early 2000s, genetic testing emerged as a direct-to-consumer product that did not require a physician's involvement and the consequences of this shift could impact everyone. More than 60% of people with European ancestry can be identified by an anonymous DNA sample, simply by using data from consumer genetic databases, new research finds. This percentage includes those who haven't undergone DNA testing themselves, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science. It started as a hobby. Now they're using DNA to help cops crack cold cases "Usually, we think about paternity tests, you can find the father, you can find siblings, but with the advance of more powerful techniques in genomics, … [Read more...] about You might not be anonymous, thanks to genealogy databases
Sections SEARCH Skip to content Skip to site index Science Subscribe Log In Subscribe Log In Today’s Paper Advertisement Supported by ByHeather Murphy Oct. 11, 2018 The genetic genealogy industry is booming. In recent years, more than 15 million people have offered up their DNA — a cheek swab, some saliva in a test-tube — to services such as 23andMe and Ancestry.com in pursuit of answers about their heritage. In exchange for a genetic fingerprint, individuals may find a birth parent, long-lost cousins, perhaps even a link to Oprah or Alexander the Great. But as these registries of genetic identity grow, it’s becoming harder for individuals to retain any anonymity. Already, 60 percent of Americans of Northern European descent — the primary group using these sites — can be identified through such databases whether or not they’ve joined one themselves, according to a study published today in … [Read more...] about Most White Americans’ DNA Can Be Identified Through Genealogy Databases