Genetic genealogy can help solve cold cases. It can also accuse the wrong person. – PBS Science November 7, 2019

I saw this recently on PBS Science –

Genetic genealogy can help solve cold cases. It can also accuse the wrong person.: This is a point that cannot be stressed enough.

A couple of key points from the article; it’s a good read:


In June, a Snohomish County jury convicted 56-year-old William Earl Talbott II for the first-degree murder of Cook and Van Cuylenborg. The episode is historic because Talbott’s trial and conviction were the first made through genetic genealogy.


Genetic genealogy — in truth, any forensics dependent on DNA — can fall prey to the same human biases that plague other aspects of law enforcement. Close relatives or even non-relatives can be accused of the crime if care is not taken with how the genetic genealogy is interpreted.


But genetic genealogy, which pointed to Usry, is not foolproof. Here’s how it can go wrong.


“There’s a long and documented history of the misuse of forensic evidence and criminal justice,” said Erin Murphy, a law professor at New York University. “It’s an important point to remember because DNA, too, can be misused.”


Berkman added that police departments need to be more transparent about when and how they’re using genetic genealogy and other DNA information to prosecute someone.



About Wichita Genealogist

Originally from Gulfport, Mississippi. Live in Wichita, Kansas now. I suffer Bipolar I, ultra-ultra rapid cycling, mixed episodes. Blog on a variety of topics - genealogy, DNA, mental health, among others. Let's
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