DNA Doe Project - General Discussion #2

Discussion in 'General Information & Discussion' started by MelmothTheLost, Apr 24, 2018.

  1. djanga

    djanga Well-Known Member

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    New article, the Rohnert Park John Doe is mentioned as well.
    How a local nonprofit solved a decades-old cold case tied to serial killer John Wayne Gacy
    Margaret Press jokes that she should take a picture of Box 114 at The UPS Store on South Main Street in Sebastopol.

    “Because that’s our corporate headquarters,” she wisecracked.


    Press, 74, is a linguist, computer programmer and crime novelist who attempted to retire in 2015, but it didn’t take. Four years ago she cofounded the DNA Doe Project. The all-volunteer nonprofit is a pioneer in investigative genetic genealogy, a relatively new and highly promising field of forensic science.

    In its short life, working with law enforcement agencies all over North America, this modest, 65-member troupe of citizen scientists has solved a remarkable 70 cold cases — using a combination of DNA and genealogy to discover the identities of previously unidentified John and Jane Does.

    At an Oct. 25 press conference in Chicago to announce the solving of a cold case tied to the notorious serial killer John Wayne Gacy, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart heaped praise on the DNA Doe Project, for its leading role in cracking the case.

    “They’re an amazing organization that does amazing work, mostly volunteers who help connect the dots,” he said

    Connecting those dots, in this case, led to the announcement that the person known for 45 years as Gacy victim No. 5, found in the crawl space under the murderer’s house, had at last been identified.

    After moving to Chicago in 1975, Francis Wayne Alexander, a native of North Carolina who went by his middle name, disappeared between February 1976 and March 1977. No missing persons report was ever filed. “They loved him,” said Dart of Alexander’s family, “but they thought he wanted nothing more to do with him.”

    In early 2020 the Cook County Sheriff’s Office turned to the DNA Doe Project for help identifying the six remaining John Does found on Gacy’s property.

    They first settled on Gacy victim No. 5, “based on the quality and quantity of the remaining biological sample,” Press told reporters in Chicago.


    DNA extracted from one of the victim’s molars was sent for sequencing to the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechynology in Hunstville, Alabama. Next, Doe Project volunteer Kevin Lord, an expert in a field called bioinformatics, uploaded an edited subset of that massive file to the third-party site GEDmatch.com, which allows users to upload their DNA samples from competing companies like Ancestry.com and 23andMe to be compared.

    It took GEDmatch about 24 hours to generate a list of people who shared DNA with Gacy victim No. 5. That’s when the DNA Doe Project’s small army of sleuths got to work.

    “In some cases, those matches are very distant, and we just start scratching away, it’s going to be a long haul,” said Press. “In other cases we’re lucky and there’s someone who could be a second cousin. Second cousins are wonderful.”

    Building out family trees, the team’s amateur sleuths quickly determined that the DNA of Gacy victim No. 5 matched that of a second cousin, through his maternal great-grandparents. Working the paternal side of Alexander’s family tree, other volunteers found a third and fifth cousin, each once removed.

    Equipped with those names, the team Googled public records and news archives to zero in on the correct candidate. Eight hours after starting the search, the volunteers were all but certain they had their man. Gacy victim No. 5 was Francis Wayne Alexander.

    The next day, they emailed Cook County Sheriff’s Lt. Jason Moran, who was leading the investigation.

    “We told him we were ready to talk,” recalled Press, “and sent him a rudimentary (family) tree, so he could follow along with what we said.”


    They also sent information on Alexander’s next of kin. After months of doing his own legwork, poring over old records, collecting evidence supporting the DDP’s conclusion, Moran reached out to Alexander’s relatives. He didn’t’ mention Gacy, but told them he was working on some unidentified-remains cold cases, and wanted to rule Wayne Alexander out.

    The family members were swabbed for DNA, which, once tested, proved a match for Gacy victim No. 5.

    Several days before that Oct. 25th press conference, Moran flew to North Carolina to give Wayne Alexander’s surviving family — his mother and two siblings — the news in person.

    A statement from the family was read aloud by Sheriff Dart:

    “It is hard, even 45 years later, to know the fate of our beloved Wayne. He was killed at the hands of a vile and evil man. Our hearts are heavy. Our sympathies go out to other victims’ families. Our only comfort is knowing this killer no longer breathes the same air as we do. We can now lay to rest what happened and move forward by honoring Wayne.”

    While the Alexander case may stand as the DNA Doe Project’s highest profile “solve,” it is one of dozens of cases the team is working on. At least two are in Sonoma County. One involves a Jane Doe from the Healdsburg area.

    “It’s an interesting case and I can’t wait to get it,” said Press, ‘but it’s been so hard to get DNA from her.”

    She is more tight-lipped about a cold case that comes from Rohnert Park.

    “I think the most I can say is that we’re very optimistic about it. It’s a very promising case.”

    Despite being an abject failure at retirement, Press is excited about the future of the DNA Doe Project and of investigative genetic genealogy, which has “exploded since 2018,” she said, “when the first cases were announced.”

    This field of forensic science, she believes, could be “as big as fingerprints.

    “I think 1/3 to 1/2 of all cold cases out there have the potential to be solved this way.”

    You can reach Staff Writer Austin Murphy at austin.murphy@pressdemocrat.com or on Twitter @ausmurph88.
     


  2. ntt1

    ntt1 Well-Known Member

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  3. doggybag2355

    doggybag2355 Well-Known Member

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    I feel kinda bad, the image they're using was the reconstruction I tried to put through an AI upscaler for the Unidentified Wiki a few months ago, and it didn't really come out well the more I look at it.
     
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  4. doggybag2355

    doggybag2355 Well-Known Member

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    If anyone is able to upscale it properly from the source, you or I could email that to Joan.
     
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  5. djanga

    djanga Well-Known Member

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    There is a spreadsheet update. And Peter Kalama Ln Jane Doe has a new highest match of 89.6 cM (previously was 46.9 cM).

    Also not related to the DDP, but today is a press conference of Walker County Sheriff, they will probably announce that they have identified Walker County Jane Doe (she was identified in September)
     
  6. djanga

    djanga Well-Known Member

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    Looking at the clay reconstruction I would say it is an elderly woman, was very surprised to see they estimated she could be as young as 18 and as old as 22. Not a criticism, I think technology in 1982 was far from what we have now.
     
  7. ntt1

    ntt1 Well-Known Member

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    The artist, Betty Pat Gatliff (Betty Pat Gatliff - Wikipedia) had a very distinctive style.
     
  8. djanga

    djanga Well-Known Member

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    Thank you! I thought that Wayne County Jane Doe reminds me of Gacy Victims, especially of Alexander, but I just thought that may be it was how they did clay reconstructions at that time, now it is clear that that’s the artist’s distinctive style.
     
  9. JennyJukes

    JennyJukes Active Member

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    I thought the style looked a lot like the reconstruction for Gordie Sanderson (previously known as Septic Tank Sam) and according to the image on his UID Wiki page she did!
    Gordie Sanderson
     
  10. djanga

    djanga Well-Known Member

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    Oh yes, you are right, especially the eyes shape looks the same for all her reconstructions! They all look very similar
     
  11. DNA_Sleuth

    DNA_Sleuth Active Member

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  12. doggybag2355

    doggybag2355 Well-Known Member

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  13. djanga

    djanga Well-Known Member

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    Found this article yesterday, seems that Michigan State Police and New Buffalo Police exhumed New Buffalo/ Berrien County Jane Doe 1988 "to collect a DNA sample for CODIS entry and forensic genetic genealogy". I think it is potentially a DDP case, as they are working with Berrien police already on Betty Doe. I could not find this Jane Doe on an unidentified wiki

    https://www.fox17online.com/news/lo...-help-identifying-body-recovered-33-years-ago
     
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  14. JovanSrna

    JovanSrna Well-Known Member

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    You should. Lake Michigan Jane Doe.
     
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  15. jessica-

    jessica- Well-Known Member

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    Nationriver lady is still not identified??? Seems like she has a lot of matches.
     
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  16. doggybag2355

    doggybag2355 Well-Known Member

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    Its possible she has been but officials want to make an official ID or have all the information they can get before an announcement. John Kraicinski had apparently been identified for about a year before his announcement, all we can do is wait.
     
  17. doggybag2355

    doggybag2355 Well-Known Member

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    New Case: Kilgore Jane Doe (2000)

    Apparently she was originally thought to be African American until phenotyping testing by Parabon found that she was Native American. I suspect she might get a new reconstruction soon to reflect that better.
     
  18. doggybag2355

    doggybag2355 Well-Known Member

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    upload_2021-11-16_21-26-40.png Oh this is interesting
     
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  19. ntt1

    ntt1 Well-Known Member

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    I'm guessing it's because there are some DDP volunteers that specialize in Native American/Indigenous genetic genealogy, from the Kenosha JD and Shirley Soosay cases.
     
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  20. djanga

    djanga Well-Known Member

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    Kilgore Jane Doe is already in active research
     

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