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DNA: A solution for cold cases or a risk to the innocent?

What’s interesting as time moves on is that more people are being arrested based on DNA evidence from cold cases. The invention of genealogy websites has made it possible to link more people to cases through their DNA, essentially solving many cases that no one thought would be resolved.

A Sept. 5 report describes how a 30-year-old murder case was suddenly reopened and a suspect arrested after the suspect used a genealogy website and submitted DNA. Police in Fort Wayne, in a recently reopened case involving an 8-year-old’s murder, had been taunted with messages from the killer, notes with confessions and even promises from the killer that they’d murder again. There were no solid leads in the last 30 years — that is until the latest DNA samples were placed into a public DNA search.

The police found a suspect, then retrieved DNA from the suspect’s trash. That DNA matched the DNA found on the child at the time of the murder, giving them their first major lead in years.

The biggest problem with DNA matching is how the evidence is obtained. Evidence has to be collected through the right channels, using public spaces or information to build a case. If not, then warrants are needed. There’s also the concern that DNA may not be the answer to cases people think it is; there’s always a possibility for a DNA mismatch based on other circumstances, and false leads are more common than many are led to believe. It’s your right to question how evidence was collected and to defend yourself, even if the DNA allegedly finds you guilty.

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