DNA Labs International is reminding people this holiday season that gifts to discover ancestry can help bring justice for families of cold case victims. In the fall, DNA Labs International launched a new campaign encouraging people who are buying DNA testing kits from family heritage and ancestry sites to #DNAOptin to GEDmatch.
By uploading DNA results from these family heritage sites to GEDmatch and opting in, it enables law enforcement to connect persons of interest, which can help solve violent crime. It renews hope for the victims of previously unsolvable cases. GEDmatch, an open data personal genomics database, provides step-by-step easy instructions and allows anyone to upload results from companies such as Family Tree, My Heritage, 23andMe or Ancestry.
This new technology helped the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office identify and arrest 39-year-old Luke Fleming for the 1999 murder of Deborah Dalzell. The victim had been beaten, sexually battered and strangled. Using genealogy and GEDmatch, Fleming was identified as a suspect. DNA Labs International matched DNA evidence from the crime scene.
Thousands of cases still remain a mystery that the GEDmatch database could help solve. For example, in Jacksonville, Florida, the case of 17-year-old Leslie McCray remains unsolved 34 years later. Her body was found in 1985 on Christmas Eve on the side of the road not far from I-295 on Jacksonville’s Westside. She had suffered stab wounds to her neck. GEDmatch could bring resolution to this case.
The family of Ricky Gene Herriage in Athens, Texas, is still without answers 32 years later. Herriage’s body was found in a remote part of Henderson County near Athens on CR 1500 in Walnut Creek. He had been shot multiple times. The lack of evidence at the scene led police to believe he was killed someplace else, possibly in the early morning hours of March 8, 1987.
Genealogy could also help solve the case of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was taken while riding her bicycle in a grocery store parking lot in Arlington, Texas, on Jan. 13, 1996. Hagerman’s body was found five days later floating in a creek with her throat slit. No one has ever been caught for the abduction and murder, but it was this case that launched the Amber Alert system.
“Justice for Amber’s family as well as thousands of others is possible through GEDmatch,” said Allison Nunes, chief operating officer with DNA Labs International. “Our goal with the #DNAOptIn campaign is to bring awareness to the public about why opting in is so important for solving cold cases as well as current. Those buying ancestry DNA kits as gifts this holiday season should tell their loved ones about why opting into GEDmatch is so important, and they both can make a real difference.”
The cases mentioned are just a small sample of those that can be helped using new DNA technology and genealogy to help solve them. ProjectColdCase.org has a list of victim profiles with case information and a searchable database of cold cases that DNA matching could help bring about new leads. All people need to do to opt in is download their DNA from the family heritage website they used, upload their DNA profile into GedMatch, and select the public view with law enforcement access.
For more information about the DNA Labs International and the #DNAOptin campaign, visit DNALabsInternational.com.