Forensic genealogy helps identify California cold case victim
, 2022-01-04 02:00:00,
After nearly 30 years of languishing in anonymity, the victim in a 1994 cold case death has been identified through forensic genealogy, authorities in Riverside County announced this week.
Forensic genealogy, a relatively new investigative tool, involves uploading DNA into public databases to look for family members or matches.
The long saga in Riverside County began Oct. 24, 1994, when the body of a woman — now known to be Patricia Cavallaro, 57 — was found partially buried in the Thousand Palms desert, the Riverside County district attorney’s office said in a news release.
Investigators used “all available resources at the time” to identify the woman, including entering her DNA into the California Department of Justice’s Missing and Unidentified Persons System, but no match was made.
The investigation was eventually taken over by Riverside County’s regional cold case homicide team, which includes members of the district attorney’s office, sheriff-coroner’s department, police departments and the FBI.
Last year, the team had a DNA sample created for the purposes of forensic genealogy. The sample came from one of Cavallaro’s bone fragments, supervising investigator Ryan Bodmer said.
Using genetic matches, they found a biological child — a son — who then provided his DNA sample to the state for official confirmation.
In mid-December, the Department of Justice verified that Cavallaro was the victim in the 1994 death. She was born March 22, 1937….
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