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Does DNA Link 1991 Killing to Colonial-Era Family?

The genetic genealogy world is abuzz following a recent report in news outlets around the world (including CNN, Seattle PI, Daily Mail, etc) that investigators have used public genetic genealogy DNA databases for leads in a 20-year-old cold case.

The Case

In December 1991, 16-year-old Sarah Yarborough was tragically murdered in Federal Way, Washington.  Despite an extensive investigation, no suspect has ever been named.  Investigators have sketches of a man they believe might have been involved, but there is no name to put to the pictures.

Investigators did find some important evidence however: DNA left at the scene, possibly by Yarborough’s attacker.

The DNA

Late last year, investigators gave the DNA profile (apparently the Y-DNA profile) to California-based forensic consultant Colleen Fitzpatrick (who I’ve written about before here on TGG).  Fitzpatrick, it appears, compared the Y-DNA profile to publicly-available Y-DNA databases, such as Ysearch, in an attempt to identify a potential match for the profile.  After identifying potential matches, Fitzpatrick could then potentially identify the surname of the Y-DNA’s donor.  For example, if all Bettingers have a particular Y-DNA profile and a sample Y-DNA profile closely matches that particular Y-DNA profile, then it is likely that the parties are either closely or distantly related (on a scale of 10s or 1000s of years), and they could potentially have the same surname.

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