Can ‘next-Gen’ DNA testing help ID the remains of US service members killed in war? | Omaha State and Regional News
, 2022-06-26 07:00:00,
The Golden State Killer never saw the law coming.
Police had never connected Joseph James DeAngelo to a spree of 13 murders, 50 rapes and more than 120 burglaries across California during the 1970s and ‘80s. Then, in 2018, investigators uploaded a DNA profile of one murder victim’s rapist into a commercial database, similar to those created by companies like 23andMe and Ancestry.com.
Several people in the database shared a common ancestor with the killer, and police created a “family tree.” They quickly honed in on DeAngelo, then 72, and arrested him after confirming that his DNA matched the killer’s. He confessed to numerous crimes and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
The capture of the Golden State Killer put this technique, called genetic genealogy, in the headlines. Police now regularly use it to catch cold case killers, and to identify the remains of murder and accident victims from decades ago.
It also raised a question for historians and forensic anthropologists at the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), which has labs at Offutt Air Force Base and in Hawaii: Could they use the same method to identify the war dead from World War II, Korea and Vietnam?
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Four years later, the answer appears to be yes. The accounting agency, working with its partners at the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) in Dover, Delaware, has begun to use a highly sensitive “next-generation” DNA sequencing test developed by scientists at AFDIL…
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