19 Jan 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Reston, VA — On December 6, 2021, detectives from the Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Department (CMPD) announced that they had identified David Edward Doran as the "Myers Park Rapist," responsible for committing at least 15 sexual assaults of young girls in North Carolina between 1990 and 1999. The case marked the 200th time that a lead from the Snapshot DNA analysis division at Parabon NanoLabs resulted in a positive identification since Parabon began offering investigative genetic genealogy services to law enforcement in May 2018. Learn More About Snapshot DNA Analysis »
Throughout 2021, Parabon learned of 66 more cases that were solved with assistance from the company's unique combination of DNA phenotyping, kinship testing, and investigative genetic genealogy. Since introducing investigative genetic genealogy (IGG), Parabon has assisted law enforcement in making a positive identification (perpetrator or unidentified decedent) at the astonishing rate of more than one per week on cases that, on average, have been cold for over 25 years. When added together, these cases represent more than 5,000 years of investigation that have been closed.
Parabon's coldest case of 2021 was the identification of 2-year-old Steven "Stevie" Crawford, whose decomposed remains were discovered by a fisherman in the Keen County Reservoir, OR, on 7/11/1963 and identified 58 years later. One of Parabon's most recent cases was the positive identification of 9-year-old murder victim Haley Mae Coblentz, whose body was found stuffed in a duffel bag in the woods in Lincoln County, OR on 12/10/2020. Her mother, Shawna Browning, and the mother's girlfriend, Lauren Harrison, have been charged with aggravated murder. See All Published Police Investigations »
Technological advances were crucial in making 2021 such a successful year. For the first time in Parabon's history, 21 of the identifications were accomplished using whole genome sequencing (WGS). "WGS has proven crucial for analyzing challenging DNA samples, particularly from bone, where the DNA is often highly fragmented and mixed with DNA from the environment," said Dr. Janet Cady, Parabon's Senior Bioinformatics Scientist who leads the company's WGS efforts. Advancements on the laboratory side, such as the enrichment for DNA fragments matching the human genome, allowed for cases to be solved even when the pre-enrichment alignment rate was less than 10% (i.e., more than 90% of the DNA in the sample was from microbial contamination). Advancements on the bioinformatics side, such as low-coverage imputation, allowed for cases to be solved even when the sequencing coverage was below 1X (i.e., each spot in the human genome was sequenced less than one time on average). These technological advances were shared with the forensic community in November, when Parabon published an article about the technical, analytical, and policy changes that have taken place in the IGG landscape over the past two years(1), since Parabon first published a comprehensive article on the topic in 2019.(2) Read More Snapshot Success Stories »
In addition to WGS, advancements were made in IGG techniques that allowed the Parabon team to solve a case with the most distant top match ever reported, 30.1 centimorgans (cM). With this distant lead, an intensive collaboration with dedicated Morris County detectives led to the positive identification of Bruce Cymanski, who allegedly sexually assaulted and killed 17 year-old Nancy Noga on 1/7/1999 in Sayreville, NJ.
"It is exciting and gratifying to see my long-held, unwavering belief in the power of investigative genetic genealogy fulfilled in such an impactful way," said CeCe Moore, Parabon's Chief Genetic Genealogist. She continued, "We are grateful for the detectives who never gave up on these cases and enthusiastically embraced a new technology. Without their tireless efforts and dedication, none of this would be possible."
Parabon's leads resulted in multiple successful prosecutions in 2021. On May 6, 2021, Thomas Lewis Garner was found guilty by a jury in Sanford County FL for the 1976 murder of Naval Seaman Pamela Cahanes. Garner had been identified as the suspect through Snapshot DNA Phenotyping, IGG analysis and Kinship testing in 2019. On June 24, 2021, Michael Whyte was found guilty by a jury in Colorado Springs, CO for the 1987 murder of US Army soldier Darlene Krashoc. Whyte had been identified as the suspect through IGG analysis and Snapshot DNA Phenotyping in 2019. Finally, on July 27, 2021, Raymond L. Vannieuwenhoven was found guilty by a jury in Marinette, WI for the 1984 murder of Ellen Matheys and David Schuldes. Vannieuwenhoven had been identified as the suspect through Snapshot DNA Phenotyping and IGG analysis in 2019. Additionally, several individuals identified from Parabon leads pled guilty in 2021.
"A cold case detective can spend their entire career hoping to finally close one of these decades-old cases. Parabon's technologies have had an astounding impact on these investigations, allowing more than 200 to be resolved in only three and a half years. It's truly changing the face of cold case investigations," said Detective Brian Martin of the Fort Wayne Indiana Police Department.
About Parabon NanoLabs, Inc.
Parabon NanoLabs is a vertically integrated DNA technology company that develops next-generation forensic and therapeutic products by leveraging the enormous power of DNA. Staffed by a uniquely qualified team of scientists and technologists whose expertise ranges from bioinformatics and chemistry to computer science and pharmacology, Parabon is bringing to market revolutionary new products and services made possible by recent advances in DNA sequencing, analysis and manufacturing technologies.
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