Othram, a DNA forensics company I co-founded, has helped to solve another cold case.
For 46 years, the family of Siobhan McGuinness waited to find out who killed the spunky 5-year-old back in 1974
On a frigid February afternoon in 1974, Siobhan McGuinness was walking the short distance home from a friend’s house in Missoula, Montana, when she vanished. Two days later, the 5-year-old’s body was found in a snow-covered drain culvert near the exit for Turah on I-90, just outside the city limits. She had been sexually assaulted. She also sustained trauma to her head and stab wounds to her chest, according to the FBI.
Detectives at the time searched tirelessly for the little girl’s killer, but came up empty. The case went cold for decades.
On Monday, authorities announced that after 46 years, the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Squad, detectives from the Missoula Police Department and others had finally identified the man who took the life of the spunky child who was always smiling. Richard William Davis was 32 when he was traveling through the area at the time of Siobhan’s murder, Missoula Police Chief Jason White said at a press conference on Monday. ...
Using DNA left behind at the crime scene, specialists at private technology company Othram Inc. were able to create a genealogical profile of the suspect, which led them to Davis, the company says in a press release.
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?
If you have contacts in law enforcement, please alert them to the potential of this new technology.
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. ...