S.C. Police Use New DNA Technology To Generate Suspect Image


Four years ago, Candra Alston and her 3-year-old daughter, Malaysia Boykin, were murdered in their Columbia, S.C., apartment. Police collected DNA at the scene, but the investigation stalled, says the Washington Post. Police gathered 150 DNA samples and conducted 200 interviews with likely suspects, but had no solid results. Now the police are experimenting with a new technology that uses tiny amounts of DNA to create a computer-generated illustration of their suspect. Snapshot, a program developed by a Reston, Va., company called Parabon NanoLabs, goes beyond simply listing physical attributes — eye color, hair color, ethnicity and facial features — and creates a 3-D image of what the killer might look like.

The police in South Carolina hope that publicly releasing the suspect's image and description will bring up fresh leads in a stale case. Dabrien “Dabe” Murphy of Parabon sits in front of three monitors. With a few keystrokes, he brings up a revolving 3-D image — the back of a head. Another few taps and a face attaches itself along the hairline. The face is a man's’ olive skin, greenish eyes, full lips. Murphy has fed DNA markers linked to certain facial attributes, into 3-D imaging software to create what he calls a “composition.”

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