With DNA testing, are unidentified Jane/John doe bodies still a thing

Thank you. I was sputtering too vehemently to answer. Patriarchy and all, you know.

On second read I think DrDeth is aware that the backlog consists of untested kits, but thinks there’s a good argument to be made to not do a DNA-test unless there’s a known suspect to test against. Either way it’s a bad argument.

Not only does not testing mean you don’t get the cases where the rapist is already in the system, you miss the cases where they are added to the system later in a different case, which weakens both investigations.

Not a Good argument, but the argument they use when they are so short on funds they can only test a few. There is no good reason except some politicians cheapness to NOT have the funds to test them all, quickly.

But if you DONT have the funds to test them all, you have to do some sort of triage, sadly.

They seem to have money to buy surplus army equipment and the power to force constant budget increases. The backlog of untested kits don’t just represent triage, it represents a systemic unwillingness to ask for funding to clear the backlog.

Who has that budget? Does the budget for rape test kits come out of the police budget, the coroners budget, the DA’s budget, the hospital’s or the crime lab’s budget? Usually it is the crime lab, but do they get a separate budget or what agency are they considered part of? (More often than not the Police, but often under a separate budget line item)

One of the questions NIJ asked the teams in Houston and Detroit to answer was why there were so many unsubmitted SAKs. In Detroit, the researchers examined 20 years of records and interviewed detectives, prosecutors, advocates, elected officials, laboratory personnel and sexual assault nurse examiners. They determined that the problem was rooted in long-standing relationships within and between organizations. The “risk factors” revealed in Detroit include:

1. Victim-blaming beliefs and behaviors.
EXAMPLE : Police officers had feelings such as ‘She’s not acting like a real victim,’ or ‘This is a he-said, she-said situation.’
2. No written policy or protocol for submitting kits to the lab for testing.
3. Budget cuts that reduced the number of law enforcement personnel assigned to sexual assault cases and crime lab staff, and problems with lab capacity, such as inefficient DNA testing equipment/methods.
4. High turnover in police leadership, which makes it difficult to identify and remedy front-line practices.
*EXAMPLE : Nine chiefs in a 20-year period; five chiefs in less than three years. *
5. Strained relationships and lack of training among the necessary partners.

Read more from the Detroit report: Chapter 2: Underlying Reasons Why So Many Unsubmitted SAKs, including the larger historical context and particular risk factors for law enforcement, the prosecutor’s office, the medical system, victims advocacy agencies, and the crime lab.

This is a big problem with no easy answers.

Way to nitpick half of my post and leave out the core. Your cite supports my statement that the problem is:

Did you think I believe systemic problems equals easy answers?

Here’s an example recently announced last month of an almost-40-year-old rape and murder of Christine Jessop was solved. The DNA evidence was run through the GED database. (They thoughtfully removed the family names in this diagram, compared to the diagram I saw a while ago)

If I read the diagram right, they found matches in two separate families, in 3rd and 4th cousins variously removed. Solving the case required researching the family trees to find how those families were connected. Fortunately, there was only one connection between the maternal and paternal sides. Presumably at that level of DNA match, only one or two out of the 23 pairs of chromosomes matches with those distant cousins.

There is no central registry of family trees. If the police were lucky, the families stayed relatively local; tracking births and marriages across multiple provinces or states would have been difficult. Presumably, too, any case of “paternal pedigree error” would have derailed the search.

Fortunately, when they found the match, they had a sample of the suspect’s tissue available for direct comparison. Unfortunately, this was due to an autopsy because he’d died 5 years earlier.

meanwhile, at the time of the girl’s death, the police focused on the wrong person based on a “gut feeling” and spent 5 years and 3 trials trying to twist evidence to convict the guy before the 3rd trial was abruptly ended when DNA technology became available.

Unfortunately, I get “can’t embed media items in post.” error so I can;t post pic.
But - the police got a DNA match from:
-two third cousins, once removed on his paternal great-granparent’s side. (Who themselves were cousins)
-one of his paternal great-grandparent’s sibling’s child
-two third cousin once removed on the maternal side; one each a great-grandchild of a great-great-great grandparent through both his great-grandmother and great grandfather.

So the police had a lot of family tree work to determine who was the common element in this wide web of matches. The only thing they could be sure of wa that these matches were not too closely related to the suspect, due to the very small amount of match.

Now that we have familial DNA to point us towards suspects, testing those kits may no longer be an exercise in futility.

I think it’s worth testing them as is*, but laws on the legality of familial DNA searches varies by state, and you still need a close relation of the perpetrator to be in the criminal DNA database.

Yes and no. The murderer identified in the Jessop case, the closest relative was second cousin once removed. (Great-great-grandparents’ great-grandchild by another sequence.) The difference was, they had 5 separate matches from 5 different relatives, The closest of these were cousins to each other. Plus, the matches pointed to both the maternal (2 relatives) and paternal (3 relatives) family trees, so easier to find the common point - which it appears, there was just one marriage betwen these families.

I think as time goes on there will be a lot more such data to pull from; but will it all be consolidated, or willl there simply be dozens of databases to search? Also as time goes on, you are right, the laws will become move complex and constricted.

Think of it similar to cellphones. The police can get a warrant to check if a cellphone was in the area, but more and more judges push back against “let us get a list of every cellphone that ping’ed off that tower for the day in question”. Identifying people who may be third cousin twice removed from the perp is not terribly useful, especially if there’s a possibility that somewhere in the link is an ambiguous paternity issue.

If I recall the news correctly, even with a fairly certain family connection pointing to the dead suspect, the Ontario police had to get a court order to precisely match him with a sample from his autopsy. I suppose the best case is identifying the suspect, but among worse cases would be announcing a dead suspect and being wrong, or the police approaching some family members “can we test your DNA so we can accuse your late father of rape/murder”? Some may not want to cooperate.

One can imagine a scenario where the wrong suspect’s father had an illicit affair with his wife’s sister and produced someone - the actual murderer - with a close match to the suspect DNA, etc. Would such a person even get a look from the police? (Make the sisters identical twins, to enhance the match possibilities) Such connections would not exist in family tree searches.

I’m not sure if you are replying to me or not, but it’s important to note that using genealogical tests for forensic purposes is not the same as using familial DNA searches on forensic DNA tests.

Criminal databases are currently, and for the foreseeable future, the old type of forensic DNA test that is incompatible with genealogical matching, but can be used for familial DNA matching through partial matches to very close relatives. When going the genealogical investigation route a different kind of test is done, the same as the one you buy as a customer of Ancestry or 23andMe.

OK, thanks - that just makes it more complicated. Obviously, it’s not like the fingerprint system, just put a picture in the computer and it will tell you who matches. Although, some places (United Kingdom?) they automatically sample everyone on arrest. I don’t know if the forensic databases can support this sort of relative matching too, but my go-to legal procedures reference - Law & Order SVU - says they can.

I recall some article that discussed the Paul Bernardo case of the early 1990’s in Ontario, which mentioned one of the impediments to solving the Scarborough Rapist cases (which might have arrested him sooner) was that over that time the police changed the type of DNA test they did, so the analysis numbers did not easily correlate.

My 23AndMe page lists over 1,500 DNA relatives. While some of the closer ones are overrepresented (either because I bought the kits for them, or because our family is relatively well off and/or technologically inclined), the vast majority of those have got to be a pretty even sampling (at least for anyone with a vaguely European ancestry). I have a hard time believing anyone in the US could avoid having hundreds of third+ cousins, even if their local tree is not well represented.

CBS recently did a news story which states the hiker has been identified. The crowdfunded DNA test revealed he was likely from the Assumption Parish in Louisiana. With some additional publicity in that area, his college roommate recognized him: