(Fort Wayne’s NBC) — The turning point in solving what decades of detective work couldn’t? Comparing DNA samples with a genealogy database – a database put together by using all of those DNA kits people have been sending in to learn more about their ancestry.
“The potential is tremendous,” says CeCe Moore, head of the genetic genealogy unit at Parabon NanoLabs talked with us via Skype from San Diego about how genetics are cracking cases across the country.
“We’ve just seen the start of it,” says Moore.
In May, Fort Wayne Police reached out to Moore’s lab to see if her team could track down April Tinsley’s killer. Moore combined DNA evidence samples from the case with a public genealogy database.
“What we are doing is looking for people who share a significant amount of DNA with the suspect,” says Moore. “And if we find a second or third cousin or closer, we feel it’s a very promising case,” explains Moore.
Even if suspects themselves don’t take a genealogy test, Moore’s team can build a family tree using relatives’ DNA to draw a line to the suspect.
“We definitely don’t need the suspect to have tested or even a really close relative,” says Moore. “We can use up to second or third cousins for this type of work. In some cases, I’ve even used more distant fourth cousins, and fourth cousins twice-removed. They’re [suspects] not likely to test and upload their DNA to this website, but that doesn’t stop us from finding them.”
Moore’s work narrowed it down to two brothers. A trash pull from one of those brothers – John Dale Miller – recovered new DNA samples that proved to be DNA match.
“I think about the families in these cases a lot,” says Moore. “I hope this brings them a sense of closure and peace.”
Today’s arrest marks the sixth cold case solved this year through genetic genealogy and DNA – five of which were solved by Moore’s team.