The Wichita Police Department and Gene By Gene, a genetic testing company are co-hosting a training conference today on Investigative Genetic Genealogy.
Genetic genealogy has recently been used to help solve cold cases across the country, including most recently, identifying and leading to the arrest of a suspect in the Golden State Killer cases. Gene By Gene was one of the first companies to provide consumer DNA kits for genetic testing and have been providing investigative genetic genealogy services to law enforcement agencies to help solve unsolved violent crime.
The process is fairly simple: law enforcement agencies submit unidentified genetic material collected at crime scenes. DNA is then extracted from that material which is analysed and then compared against a database of consumer DNA data that people have submitted to a genetic genealogy.
The DNA is compared to others on the site to identify a possible relative, often times a distant cousin. A “Family Tree” is then constructed to try to determine what relative the unidentified DNA belongs to.
That then allows law enforcement to collect DNA from that person. Depending on a particular state’s laws, investigators may obtain the DNA by collecting an item the person disposes of in a public trash can like a water bottle or a cup. In some states, they may have to obtain a warrant before collecting a sample.
That sample is then tested against the unidentified DNA to see if it is a match. The process has been used to solve an estimated 100 cold case violent crimes across the country.
Users of the genetic genealogy website do have the option to opt out and not allow their DNA to be used by law enforcement.
“WPD is honored to be the first agency to co-host this cutting-edge training with Gene by Gene,” WPD Captain Jeff Weible said. “The goal is to utilize advancing technology and provide investigators with the necessary tools to identify and arrest perpetrators of violent crime.”