What is genetic genealogy, a tool used to help apprehend a suspect in the student murders in Idaho?

the 28-year-old Brian Kohberger arrested in contact with Killed four students from the University of Idaho In November 2022, a particular tool that authorities use to track down Kohberger comes to light.

Kohberger was captured on Dec. 30 in eastern Pennsylvania. according to For officials at WSU, Kohberger was a doctoral student in the school’s criminal justice program, completing his first semester earlier in December.

over there reports That break in the murder case came after using a process called “genetic genealogy”.

Here’s what you should know about genetic genealogy.

What is genetic genealogy?

According to a research guide published in the Library of Congress websiteGenetic Genealogy creates a profile of biological relationships between or between individuals using DNA test results, in conjunction with traditional genealogy methods.

How it works?

The Library of Congress Research Guide to Genetic Genealogy states that DNA samples contain three sources of information:

  • Y-chromosomal DNA (Y-DNA) found only in male samples, and gives information on paternal lineage (the male progeny)
  • Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) found in samples from both males and females, and gives information on maternal lineage (the female line)
  • Hereditary autosomal DNA (atDNA), which gives information about both the male lineage and the female lineage.

Genealogy website explained States mtDNA can be used to trace a person’s direct female line ancestry, while Y-DNA can be used to trace a direct male line ancestry. Meanwhile, AtDNA is being used to find relatives within the past five to seven generations, and it can help people learn more about their ethnic ancestors.

What do you usually use?

According to the article posted on the website Genealogy Explained, genetic genealogy is used to help determine a person’s ancestry and ancestry through DNA tests.

“These tests compare DNA test results with those already tested by others in order to identify genetic similarities and provide information about how close people are to each other,” read part of the site.

The site also mentions a number of companies that offer genetic genealogy DNA testing, including some fairly well-known brands like AncestryDNA and 23andMe.

How is genetic genealogy used to solve crimes?

According to the year 2022 Article Posted on the website Genealogy Explained, a method they call investigative genetic genealogy or “forensic genealogy” has been used to identify suspects in a criminal case.

September 2022 Transfer A publication published by the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence details the process of what they call forensic genetic genealogy. The report notes that searching DNA profiles against the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) may not always result in confirmatory or evidentiary matches.

“When a search does not result in a CODIS match, forensic service providers can identify leads using forensic genetic genealogy,” read part of the report.

According to the report, Forensic Genealogy uses profiles of genetic variations that commonly occur across individuals known as SNPs. After a SNP profile is created, the profile is uploaded to law enforcement genetic databases to compare a case sample with available profiles uploaded by other consenting individuals.

“Similarities between the sample case profile and approved individual profiles can help law enforcement identify individuals associated with the sample of interest,” read part of the report.

According to the report, the results of the investigation were later confirmed with additional DNA analysis.

Is this the first time genetic genealogy has been used to solve a crime?


In recent years, at least three cases in California and Arizona have involved the use of genetic genealogy.

Golden State Killer

in 2018, KTVU’s sister station in the San Francisco Bay Area mentioned That the arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo in connection with the Golden State Killer cases. DeAngelo was arrested, according to Sacramento County District Attorney Ann Maria Schubert, after a DNA sample came back as a match for the Golden State Killer.

In an Associated Press article, he stated that police zeroed in on DeAngelo by using genealogical websites to identify possible relatives of the killer based on DNA collected at the crime scene.

DeAngelo was eventually arrested after detectives collected trash from cans left outside DeAngelo’s home, and a piece of tissue from the trash proved to be evidence they needed to obtain an arrest warrant, according to court documents.

In June 2020, DeAngelo pleaded guilty to 13 counts of murder and 13 counts of rape under a plea deal that avoided a possible death sentence. He is sentenced to prison In August of the same year to several life sentences.

The killings in the channel phoenix

The Phoenix-area canal killings were another case marked by the use of genetic genealogy.

The Channel killings refer to the killings of two women in the 1990s in the Phoenix area. The suspect in both cases, Brian Patrick Miller, has been linked through DNA results to the deaths of Angela Brusso in November 1992, and Melanie Bernas in September 1993.

“This was the first case ever solved, using forensic genetic genealogy in 2015. That identified Brian Patrick Miller as the suspect in this case,” said genetic genealogist Colin Fitzpatrick.

Miller’s trial, after a number of delays, opens on October 3, 2022.

Read more: Phoenix murder trial continues: Brian Patrick Miller is accused of killing two women

What does the future hold for this technology?

Right now, Fitzpatrick says genetic genealogy is a major investigative one, but she says that in the future it could play a bigger role in criminal investigations.

“I think that in the near future it will be the evidence that will determine the outcome of the case,” said Fitzpatrick.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

A digital representation of the human genome.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A digital representation of the human genome. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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