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10 January 2012

GENEALOGY IN THE NEWS: SOLVING CRIMES

     The following article appeared on CNN today. The police investigating a murder case sent a DNA sample to a genealogist, who compared it to results from a genealogy DNA bank. The suspect, if the police theory is correct, is a Mayflower descendant with a certain surname. They are hoping to narrow the field of suspects with this information.
     As a former prosecutor, I applaud the innovative thinking involved in this case, and I wish the police success in catching this criminal.
     As a genealogist who believes DNA testing is the "future" of family history research, I have concerns that stories like this will scare away people who have worries about the privacy of their DNA results when done for genealogical purposes. I have cousins who are resisting getting their DNA tested, and if they do not, my extended family will lose, forever, the chance to have two male lines of DNA charted. Are their fears so unfounded? I thought so, until I read this article.
     From the police methods used here, whether or not a person's DNA is tested would not make a difference. The murderer's DNA would not necessarily be on record--it is his ancestors and relatives who will be responsible in the end for catching him.
     Good or bad development? Read and discuss: CNN COLD CASE DNA TRACKING