There are some cold cases, many of which thought they would never be resolved if justice was not served and the perpetrators were never caught.
But thanks to amazing breakthroughs in DNA technology, a brother, daughter, grandchild, or even a distant relative on the other side of the world could have the key to solving a case and helping the police take past evil criminals to justice bring to.
From the Golden State Killer to the Ramsey Street Rapist, this gallery shows the cold cases that suddenly became red-hot when the offender's relatives used a commercial DNA home test kit without knowing their effects.
The Golden State Killer
The Golden State Killer was only caught in 2018 because a distant relative wanted to learn more about the extended family – they hardly knew that it contained a suspected serial killer
The case that popularized DNA tracing technology is the Golden State Killer, attributed to the serial killer, rapist, and robber who terrorized areas of California in the mid-1970s and 1980s. James DeAngelo is believed to have been responsible for at least 12 murders and more than 50 rapes, and was only caught in 2018 when a distant relative wanted to learn more about the extended family.
The relative used a home test kit to upload his DNA to a genealogy website that eventually ended partly matching the DNA left behind at the scene. The investigators then created and restricted a family tree to find a suspect of the right age who was connected to the area. DeAngelo was arrested on April 24, 2018, and later charged with 26 charges, including 13 for murder. He is expected to be on trial again on April 10 and has not filed an appeal.
The murders of Brynn Rainey and Carol Andersen
Joseph Holt (left) is said to be responsible for the unsolved murders of two young women in the 1970s. He died in 2014 before DNA evidence linked him to both crime scenes.
A relative's genome, submitted on a commercial website, led investigators to three deceased brothers in search of the murders of two young women in the 1970s.
Brynn Rainey was 27 years old when she disappeared from South Lake Tahoe, California in 1977. Her body was found a month later. Two years later, 16-year-old Carol Andersen disappeared when she came home from a party. Her body was discovered hours later. Her murders were not known to be linked until DNA analysis suggested otherwise in 2017.
The son of one of the brothers provided the police with his father's old toothbrush, Joseph Holt, which eventually matched the evidence left at the two crime scenes. Holt, who died in 2014, moved to South Lake Tahoe in 1974 and lived six minutes from where Andersen was last seen. After the case was closed, Andersen's family said in a statement that they now have some answers and a conclusion.
The murder of Sophie Sergie
Brandy Jennings had no idea that if she used the GEDMatch service, she would help the Alaska police to solve a 25-year murder of student Sophie Sergie from the University of Alaska Fairbanks
The murder of Sophie Sergie, a student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, remained unsolved for 25 years until five of the alleged murderer's relatives, including a maternal aunt, decided to use the DNA home test kit and learn more about the family . Her DNA was instrumental in helping the police close the case.
After the relatives' genetic markers partially matched those of the murderer, the family tree was narrowed down to one relative through the investigation: Steven Downs, alumnus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He is currently on trial for rape and murder and is battling extradition from Maine to Alaska. He claims that he is innocent.
The murder of Pamela Cahanes
Thomas Lewis Garner was arrested 34 years after the alleged murder of Pamela Cahanes in 1984. Parabon NanoLabs created a family tree to help investigators narrow their search. He denies any involvement in the murder
Pamela Cahanes was 25 years old and had just completed basic training in the US Navy in Florida when she was allegedly murdered by her classmate Thomas Lewis Garner in August 1984. It was caught 34 years later after Parabon NanoLabs created a family tree that helped investigators narrow down their search. The police discovered that Garner's DNA matched the DNA on Cahanes' body.
The likelihood that it will match someone other than Garner is 700 billion to one. Until the DNA breakthrough, Garner was not on the suspect list. Garner, who later became a dental hygienist, was arrested in March 2019 without charge for murder. He didn't admit the murder. A trial date has not yet been set.
The murder of Michelle Martinko
Two people's attempts to find out more about their extended family ended with their distant cousin being charged with the murder of Michelle Martinko, a senior high school student, in 1979
Brandy Jennings had no idea that if she used the GEDMatch service, she would help the Cedar Rapids police solve a 40-year-old murder of high school senior Michelle Martinko. According to The Gazette, Jennings, who is mentioned in the search warrant received for the suspect, only found that her DNA led to an arrest when people interested in the case notified her on Facebook.
She just wanted to learn more about the family on her dead father's side. Jennings submitted her DNA to a public database, which meant that the investigators had access to it without the need for a court order. It turned out that she was the second cousin to be removed twice by the man accused of murdering Martinko.
Detectives were required to covertly receive a DNA sample from Burns to verify that it matched the evidence at the scene. After following him into a restaurant, they waited for him to leave a straw, which they then tested and brought together.
At the time of his arrest, Burns said he had no "plausible explanation" of how his DNA had ended up at the scene, but denied that he had killed Martinko. He is due to be tried on October 14, 2019 for murder. He didn't plead guilty.
The murder of Anne Marie Hlavka
After the success of genetic genealogy in the case of the Golden State Killer, the same technique was used in this case by Parabon NanoLabs, which led the authorities to Jerry Walter McFadden
Like the murder of Michelle Martinko, the murder of 20-year-old Anne Marie Hlavka was unsolved for nearly 40 years. There were no interruptions until 2011, when the suspect's DNA was recovered from the crime scene evidence. However, there were no further developments for the next five years.
Following the success of genetic genealogy in the case of the Golden State Killer, Parabon NanoLabs used the same technique in this case that led the authorities to Jerry Walter McFadden, a convicted rapist, kidnapper and murderer.
McFadden was in and outside of the prison at the time and was on probation and allegedly in Portland in the run-up to Hlavka's murder. In 1985, he escaped from prison and kidnapped his correctional officer for three days, triggering "the biggest manhunt in Texas history". He was finally executed in 1999. The DNA submitted by his living relatives matched the DNA at the Hlavka crime scene to put this cold case to bed.
The murders of Genevieve Ziticki, Sherri and Megan Sherer
Serial rapist and murderer Robert Brashers (right) was eventually identified as the culprit after his living relatives provided samples that allowed the police to exhume his body to leave his DNA with the DNA left at the Genevieve Ziticki crime scene (left) to compare. murder
The murders of Genevieve Ziticki (pictured) and Sherri and Megan Sherer are separated by eight years and 530 miles, but in 2018 they were finally linked to and resolved with the samples provided by the suspect's relatives.
The serial rapist and murderer Robert Brashers was eventually identified as the culprit after his living relatives provided samples that the police could use to exhume his body to compare his DNA with that left at the scene.
Brashers committed suicide in a clash with the Missouri police in 1999 over a crime unrelated. At the time, he was not a suspect in either investigation. The breakthrough also helped identify Brashers as a rapist in a 1997 Memphis, Tennessee case.
The murder of Linda and Clifford Bernhardt
The murders of Billings, the couple Linda and Clifford Bernhardt from Montana were solved 45 years later when a relative's DNA in a public database partially matched the evidence left at the scene
The murders of the Montana couple Linda and Clifford Bernhardt remained unsolved for 45 years – until a few weeks ago. Again, it was a relative's use of a public DNA database that helped investigators limit the pool of suspects to just two brothers.
A brother lived outside the state and his sample did not match the evidence left in the Bernhardts' house. The other, Cecil Stan Caldwell, was a match. Caldwell actually worked with Linda in a grocery store at the time. He disgustedly signed the condolences book at the Bernhardt funeral. He died in 2003 at the age of 59.
The murder of Christine Franke
Benjamin Holmes was arrested and charged with murdering 25-year-old college student Christine Franke in 2001 17 years later – all because several members of the Holmes & # 39; family used GEDMatch
Last year Benjamin Holmes was arrested and charged with murdering 25-year-old college student Christine Franke in Orlando in 2001 – all because several members of the Holmes family used GEDMatch.
For years, the police simply had to make a composite sketch of a potential suspect, which never led to new clues. The breakthrough came after Holmes' relatives used GEDMatch, hoping to learn more about their relationships through the DNA home test kit.
Her DNA partially matched the evidence at the scene and led the investigators to a mother with two sons who lived in Orlando. She voluntarily submitted a genetic sample to the police, who confirmed that she was the murderer's mother.
The search was then limited to her son Benjamin Holmes. He was sent a search warrant for his DNA, which eventually matched the sample left at the scene.
The Ramsey Street rapist
Darold Wayne Bowden, presumably the Ramsey Street rapist, was arrested late last year after DNA evidence matched that at the site of several rapes.
Between 2006 and 2008, six women were raped on or around Ramsey Street, a main street in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Despite the collection of DNA, there was no match with anyone in the system. According to reports from the victims, the attacker was a white man of thin to medium height and between 5 feet 9 and 6 feet 3.
The attacker, known as "Ramsey Street Rapist", terrorized the area between March 2006 and January 2008 when the last attack was reported. Since then, the path has been cold – until the end of 2018, when Parabon NanoLabs managed to bind 43-year-old Darold Wayne Bowden to the rapes.
The head of Fayetteville PD's cold fall department described Bowden as a "petty criminal" who was arrested several times. The alleged rapist is currently waiting for the trial.
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