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Using Family DNA to Solve Crimes | CMBA CLE Catalog

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Using Family DNA to Solve Crimes

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Date Published

October 20, 2021


Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association




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Part 1 - Familial Searches in Ohio
Familial Searching was first used in Ohio in 2016. This type of search is used as a way of extending the utility of the offender DNA database to create investigative leads for cases of violent crimes by utilizing the similarities between the DNA profiles of related individuals. For this talk, the participants will gain knowledge of how familial searching works in Ohio, the difference between a familial search and a genetic genealogy search and how to each might help a cold case. A cold case success story or two will also be reviewed for this presentation.

Part 2 - Our presenter discusses how working with a team headed up by Paul Holes (now retired) from the Contra Costa County, CA DA's office and Stephen Kramer, a lawyer from the Los Angeles field office of the FBI, assisted in identifying Joseph James DeAngelo as the Golden State Killer (GSK). The technique used was DNA segment triangulation as originally developed by to help adoptees identify their birth relatives. The source of DNA was semen from one of the GSK's rape/homicide victims. After uploading the crime scene DNA profile to an online DNA database, family trees were built for people who shared DNA ("matches") with GSK's DNA and common ancestors identified. Since the matches shared DNA with the GSK, we knew he must be a descendant of the common ancestors. Only one man amongst those descendants fit the criteria of age, geography, ethnic background and eye color: Joseph James DeAngelo. An abandoned DNA sample from DeAngelo compared against the crime scene DNA confirmed that the GSK was DeAngelo with odds of several quadrillion to 1.

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Diane Gehres

Diane Gehres is the Lab Manager for the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) CODIS program and also serves as the state... Read More

Barbara Rae-Venter, J.D., Ph.D.

Barbara Rae-Venter, J.D., Ph.D., is a retired intellectual property attorney who specialized in thepatenting of... Read More

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Program Titles and Supporting Materials

This program contains the following components:

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If applicable, you may obtain credit in multiple jurisdictions simultaneously for this program (see pending/approved list below). If electing credit for this program, registrants in jurisdictions not listed below will receive a Certificate of Completion that may or may not meet credit requirements in other jurisdictions. Where applicable, credit will be only awarded to a paid registrant completing all the requirements of the program as determined by the selected accreditation authority.

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How to Attend

Join the self-paced program from your office, home, or hotel room using a computer and high speed internet connection. You may start and stop the program at your convenience, continue where you left off, and review supporting materials as often as you like. Please note: Internet Explorer is no longer a supported browser. We recommend using Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Safari for best results.

Technical Requirements
You may access this course on a computer or mobile device with high speed internet (iPhones require iOS 10 or higher). Recommended browsers are Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.

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