Sunday, October 04, 2020

Othram Helps Solve 1974 Cold Case: Carla Walker Murder

Othram, a DNA forensics company I co-founded, has solved another cold case. 

Carla Walker of Fort Worth TX was tortured, raped, and murdered in 1974. Finally the killer has been identified and arrested.

This was an open and high profile case just a few months ago. See this April 2020 episode of The DNA of Murder (Oxygen channel), hosted by Paul Holes, the detective who caught the Golden State Killer.

Who Killed Carla Walker? In 1974, 17-year-old Carla Walker’s reported abduction out of the arms of her boyfriend sent a Texas town on a massive manhunt. She was discovered murdered in a culvert three days later. Paul Holes interviews the only witness, Carla’s boyfriend. 
Walker and her boyfriend, Western Hills High School football quarterback Rodney McCoy, attended a Valentine’s dance on Feb. 16, 1974. After the dance, they met up with friends and then stopped by a Fort Worth bowling alley. 
McCoy has always maintained that a man approached the couple while they were sitting inside his car at the bowling alley parking lot and pointed a gun at him. He was beaten unconscious, and when he awoke, he found his cheerleader girlfriend missing.


See Othram: the future of DNA forensics

The existing FBI standard (CODIS) for DNA identification uses only 20 markers (STRs -- previously only 13 loci were used!). By contrast, genome wide sequencing can reliably call millions of genetic variants. 

For the first time, the cost curves for these two methods have crossed: modern sequencing costs no more than extracting CODIS markers using the now ~30 year old technology. 

What can you do with millions of genetic markers? 

1. Determine relatedness of two individuals with high precision. This allows detectives to immediately identify a relative (ranging from distant cousin to sibling or parent) of the source of the DNA sample, simply by scanning through large DNA databases. ...

If you have contacts in law enforcement, please alert them to the potential of this new technology.

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