Advanced DNA testing and Advanced, Open-Minded Approaches to Solving Cold Cases.Posted: October 26, 2019
Why is this case somehow exempted from use of advanced DNA testing? Consider the following and then ask yourself why law enforcement in Michigan is allowed to stay silent about where things stand in this decades-old cold case. Why were cold cases in other states considered worthy of real efforts at a resolution and this case is not? Why did the Michigan State Police get to control the publicity in 2005 about “rejuvenating” the OCCK task force and then never answer a single question about what they did and what they found?
The following is background information that sheds light on how this case is constantly slow-walked and how evidence and tips are never fully followed to logical conclusions. It is the basis for a request for Michigan officials outside of the law enforcement code of silence to ask for answers and explantations. If the case cannot be solved or testing cannot be done, law enforcement needs to state this on the record. In this case, in the absence of anyone with inside information having the guts to come forward, those answers about where the case stands are due from the Michigan State Police.
This is what I recently asked the “task force” to do, in accordance with present-day DNA testing capabilities. I believe they are interested, but somehow balking at sending information for third-party testing and examination, which has been done in numerous other high-profile and very old cold cases. There is also the consideration of the state of the evidence, but you don’t know until you try! If the evidence is somehow not able to be tested, the Michigan State Police owe the public an explanation of why this is the case, how this evidence was stored and handled over the decades, and how they propose to avoid these issues in the future.
The substance of my recent email requesting additional testing:
To solve the Bear Brook (New Hampshire) murders, NH State Police sent hair fragments, that’s fragments, hair pieces without a root to a lab for testing. They used Bode Cellmark Forensics. This lab, using hair fragments, was able to obtain GED Match quality DNA results, which allowed the victims in the Bear Brook case, kept in barrels over a 35-45 year period, to be identified.
As described in this abstract, there is now an enhanced DNA extraction method for hair shaft forensic evidence which when combined with a recently developed nuclear DNA typing assay, improves “the success rate for obtaining informative results from highly compromised, degraded and trace forensic samples such as rootless hair shafts.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/28993934/?fbclid=IwAR34WTLENUUIeB4GbNa_67FUQsK_FiiQgPKXqCCXcygAvhb8S_GeQ9H2Hzg The result: “These methodologies can produce nuclear DNA results with high statistical power from rootless hair shafts.”
I am asking that the hair that is in evidence in the Oakland County Child Murders be sent to Bode laboratory for testing purposes. The results from the testing can then be sent to an independent research firm for genealogy research in order to identify the perpetrator(s) in this long unsolved case. For example, the results could be outsourced for the genetic GED Match inquiry to a genetic genealogist such as Barbara Rae- Venter. https://barbara.genealogyconsult.com/about-me/. Rae-Venter was instrumental in helping to solve the Golden State Killer Case, as well as identifying the victims in the Bear Brook murder cases. She has since been approached to assist in over 50 unsolved homicide and unidentified victim cases.
Venter has been a very busy person after success in these cases, but again—notice these are sometimes cases involving rootless hair shaft evidence. For example:
Thirty-three years after the crime, breaks in the case are happening fast. On Nov. 13, 2018, Dr. Rae-Venter uploaded the adult victim’s DNA profile to GEDmatch. “I got the results at 6 a.m. the next morning and identified her by 8 through a second-cousin match. All because of atDNA from rootless hair.
“Extracting atDNA from the hair shaft was not possible before,” she emphasized, adding that final identification must still be confirmed by DNA testing of a family member. “The implications of this technology for solving cold cases worldwide are just huge.”
Some important points:
1. Rootless hair fragments, decades-old, can now be analyzed at a much more sophisticated level, resulting in GED Match quality DNA results.
2. The second part of the inquiry, involving finding a family member in genetic data bases, can be outsourced to an independent genetic genealogist or firm. I read an interview of Rae-Venter where she explains that in a very short period of time, these types of inquiries, which use to take 20,000 hours of work now take a small fraction of this time.
3. If the State of Michigan is unable or unwilling to commit the resources to pay for testing these hairs with Bode Cellmark Forensics, the Tim King Trust has sufficient funds in it to cover these costs and would be the perfect use for these funds.
4. Even if Rae-Venter is too busy at this point to consult and work on this case, I am sure she would be intrigued by this case and could give guidance on the next best resource.
I am assuming all of the hair evidence in the OCCK case has been mtDNA sequenced and that this was the basis for the statement by Cooper that the hairs from the bodies of Mark and Tim, as well as hair found in the Sloan car, all match. In light of these recent DNA advancements, the fact that further testing can easily be conducted by labs and genetic genealogists with the necessary expertise, and that this can be done at no cost to the state, there is no excuse for not going forward with this approach.
The state police will be called to account in the near future, not just by me, for their failure to do everything possible to solve these cases. They want a DNA case—now they may well have one. And let’s be honest, why wouldn’t they want to be out-front on this and be ready to go if they get names of men Mark and Tim may have been sold to after they were abducted and later murdered by yet another participant? We have long discussed how it is likely the owner of these hairs had no criminal record and will not be found in CODIS. The hairs are the key to this case? Then they MUST be tested as described above. All the MSP has to do is make contact with Bode and send the hairs on to be tested. We will pay for the testing. They can even sit on their asses until they get results before they contact Rae-Venter. We will pay for her work, too.
Finally, does the MSP have DNA from a relative of McKinney?
Thanks for reading this XXXXX. It is outrageous to me that you have to now go explain it to the MSP powers that be. If there is someone at the MSP I should deal with directly, please advise. The time for their excuses is over.