“Let’s try that,” Ozark, Ala., Police Chief Marlos Walker remembers thinking when he read about genealogy database techniques that led to the arrest of the suspected “Golden State Killer” in California last year. Now, in a case that sat unsolved for nearly two decades, police used the same genetic technology to find a suspect they have now charged in a double murder, the Associated Press reports.
The bodies of two 17-year-old girls were found shot to death in a car in 1999. When evidence from the scene was uploaded to GEDMatch, a public genetic database repository where over a million people have uploaded profiles from at-home ancestry kits, a family was identified. From there, kinship testing narrowed the list to a single person, Coley McCraney, 45, whose DNA was a match, the police chief said. Law enforcement interest in using genealogy data to crack cold cases has ballooned, despite privacy concerns. CeCe Moore, chief genetic genealogist with Parabon NanoLabs, which did the searches in the Alabama case, said the company has helped provide law enforcement with identifications in 43 cases since last May. The New York Times reports that the Alabama case is at least the fourth in five days that was solved using genetic genealogy.