Genetic Genealogy

Today I watched an online webinar offered by Bode Technology called “Forensic Genealogy: Diving Deeper into Law Enforcement Investigations.” Presented by John Somerindyke, Retired-Fayetteville Police Department, the discussion was of forensic genealogy investigations from the perspective of law enforcement. This is part of Bode’s seminar series on “Justice Using Genealogy.” It was free. All I had to do was register. In the past I have been able to watch/listen to recorded webinars simply by contacting the company.

Bode Technology has served “the law enforcement and identification markets for over 25 years and is unique in that it provides both state-of-the-art human DNA analysis and innovative DNA collection products. The range of Bode Technology’s services include diverse offerings such as high-throughput DNA testing services, casework analysis, missing person identification, private and CODIS databanking of convicted offenders or arrestees, as well as paternity identification. Our patented DNA collection systems are in use worldwide for collections of DNA from convicted offenders and arrestees, from crime scenes, as well as from parents and children for genealogy and identification services. By leveraging the strength and experience of our research and development teams and casework analysts, Bode Technology offers worldwide DNA analysis services, consulting, training, and validation services on a customized basis.”

So a long way of saying that Bode works with law enforcement all the time. The presenter, Retired Lt. Somerindyke discussed how the Fayetteville Police Department solved the case of the “Ramsey Street Rapist,” involving at least 6 rapes over 22 months in 2007-2008 using genetic genealogy.; Lt. Somerindyke described how technology finally caught up with this rapist in 2018.

At a press conference some time after the Golden State arrest, Somerindyke explained how they were proceeding with the evidence in these cases and said they would do anything and everything to solve these violent crimes. The PD went forward with a press conference to get the information out to the public, because this is how you get that phone call–the one that might solve the case.

He was intrigued by the solving of the Golden State Killer case and his department used genetic genealogy services and Parabon Nano Labs to triangulate and find a person of interest. He explained that once the genealogist does the work, there is still a lot of work for law enforcement to do to help “fill out” the family tree to narrow on a suspect. Law enforcement takes the genetic genealogy road map and can fill in using vital records from county and state data bases. He called the information from the genealogist the equivalent of a crimestoppers tip that has to be further investigated and developed by law enforcement.

Asked about the cost, Somerindyke responded there is “no price tag for getting victims justice,” and that in the scheme of things, the cost was “not that much.” He said if the Fayetteville PD could scrounge up enough for seven genetic genealogy cases (they went on to use the procedure in other cases), anybody could.

He told law enforcement participants to do this sooner rather than later, before laws might be enacted to prohibit LE from using genetic genealogy databases due to privacy concerns. He explained that GED Match has tightened its privacy policies since the Golden State Killer arrest, but that it is still a workable system for finding offenders or exonerating the innocent at this point.

Cases that have used genetic genealogy are making their way through the court system but to date, no cases have been dismissed on this basis. Somerindyke also explained that there are grants available for testing. He explained that working with Bode and/or a genetic genealogist is a team effort. Teresa Vreeland, the Forensic Genealogy Case Manager, explained that the turn around time in these cases is sample-dependent and that in a best case scenario it takes about four weeks from DNA sample testing to develop a family tree that could yield a viable person of interest. The building out of a family tree could take much longer in some cases.

In response to my question, Vreeland was not aware of any other cases that have developed autosomal DNA from rootless hair evidence aside from the Bear Brook murder cases, but that they “are watching this closely.” John Somerindyke repeatedly told the law enforcement and prosecutors in the listening audience to call him or email him with questions. Law enforcement, if you are out there, his email is He was easy to understand and could walk anybody through what is involved.

Genetic genealogy is inevitable in the OCCK case if law enforcement really wants this solved. The owner of the hairs found on Tim and Mark and in Arch Sloan’s Bonneville is most likely not someone who is in CODIS. The man who was in the polaroid standing next to a naked boy Richard Lawson said Ted Lamborgine held out and said “looks like the King boy” [wink/wink] at Bobby Moore’s place is probably not in CODIS. No one was arresting pedophiles very often back in the 1970s. Of course Lawson just couldn’t remember who this man was. Lawson, convicted in 2006 for a 1989 murder, died in prison on September 8, 2012. Lamborgine is still alive and will spend the rest of his life in prison after being convicted for multiple child rapes. He’s not talking.

The owner of those hairs is lucky technology has not caught up with him just yet. If the MSP isn’t willing to pursue the methods used to obtain autosomal level DNA from hair evidence (as in the Bear Brook case), all they will be left with is mtDNA. That is a true needle in a haystack unless someone comes forward with more names and the state police are willing to obtain DNA samples from these men or their relatives. Even then it will require a mountain of police work that I’m not sure the MSP is willing to do.

I listened to this webinar for free. It was an hour out of my day. I expect the Michigan State Police to do their jobs and get all of the evidence in the OCCK case re-evaluated using current DNA technology. There are people in law enforcement and other professions who work together to solve some very cold cases. Why won’t you partner with a genetic genealogist or call another agency who has had success with these methods? Quantico is behind the learning curve here. And in this case I believe the FBI has little interest in getting to the bottom of these murders. If the evidence is too degraded due to your storage methods, you need to answer to the public for this. Why does no one in the Detroit area media ever ask about this? You cannot have your cake and eat it, too–those hairs are such a big deal? GET ON IT.

25 Comments on “Genetic Genealogy”

  1. Jeremy says:

    I totally agree with you Cathy. I think part of the problem is that many of the good investigative reporters that took a interest in the OCCK case have been forced out. Kevin Dietz was great, seems like Heather Catallo has a reduced role.

  2. swimmerfriend says:

    Cathy- does the request to pursue mtDNA testing have to come from LE? Can the families prompt an inquiry? Mandating LE to comply? What is it going to TAKE?

    • cathybroad says:

      The MSP has complete control over the evidence and the case. A lawsuit filed by Kristine’s mother in 2012 was dismissed and never refiled. In it, she asked that the court rule that the Department of Justice take over the investigation. In this article you will see how officials retaliated by asking for DNA from all of Kris’ s family members. This was completely unnecessary because law enforcement got blood samples from the mothers of the victims decades ago when mtDNA testing became available. The OC sheriff said DOJ “is” involved through the FBI. The FBI is dirty in this case, too. I have twisted my brain trying to think of a way to get this case out of the MSP’s hands. Our letter-writing campaign to Michigan’s governor and attorney general was a bust.

      The MSP has no incentive here. They will look bad because they know they blew the investigation. They view two of the four families involved as enemies. There is apparently no real oversight. The media in the Detroit area is weak. The communities involved never asked questions or demanded answers. They hung the victims and their families out to dry. What is is going to take is a whistle blower from inside the MSP or the OCP office. And someone who knows the pedophiles who were involved in these crimes who has the spine to speak up and keep speaking up until law enforcement finishes the job here. Unless and until then, everyone will defer to the MSP and the MSP will do what they do best–keep a lid on this case.

      • Array says:

        Kristine’s mother, or her lawyer, may have made some tactical mistakes in the lawsuit idea, but the general question “Can the families prompt an inquiry? Mandating LE to comply?”, it seems like a good question, a matter of having the right strategy.

        There are a million kinds of lawsuits, civil suits etc.

        One mistake was that the goal of the suit in that article was to ask the Department of Justice to get involved.

        How much more evidence is needed to figure out that the Department of Justice does not solve corruption issues unless the issue is presolved and handed to them with a threat of media involvement?

        Look at every single major corruption case in recent U.S. history.

        The Oakland county murders are not some mysterious crime. It’s very clearly a case of high level corruption.

        The Department of Justice will not solve it until media forces action, and even then the focus will be on mitigating scandal.

        A clever lawsuit might be helpful but it’s baffling why anybody would want the Department of Justice or an inspector general or whatever to be involved.

        • Allay says:

          Sorry to sound rude in that comment, but if you want to solve the case you have to use real facts, including realities about the investigating agencies, department of justice etc.

          It’s wonderful that somebody trusts these expensive agencies but that trust should be tempered a bit with the truth.

          Somebody mentioned the Ramsey case previously. Just look at that case.

          1) The police quickly got enough evidence to indicate what happened.

          2) Further evidence arrived quickly to support the initial conclusion.

          3) More and more evidence piled up supporting that.

          So what did the police do?

          They did what the rich guy told them to do. No offense to whoever.

          Mr Ramsey had a lot of money, probably spent a lot on indirect gifts to cops. Look at how thoroughly that investigation was twisted.

          Now look at the people involved in the Oakland murders. They have far more money than mr Ramsey, far more other abilities to incentivize a diversion in the case as well.

          • Array says:

            Sorry to be such a spam factory, but to clarify something about the Ramsey case.

            That case was not a murder.

            Properly ‘solving’ that ‘case’ would have meant referring the boy to some competent medical person to check his blood sugar or chemical sensitivities or whatever.

            Turning it into a murder mystery was the only criminal act.

            Accidents happen, people die, it isn’t always a bizarre wide ranging conspiracy, as it is in the Oakland county case.

            • Array says:

              One final point then I will walk away.

              The point of suggesting that you should not trust cases like this to the justice department or police was not that they don’t solve any crimes.

              If you get a bicycle stolen or somebody vandalizes your mailbox then you should immediately contact the inspector general or the justice department. They will work diligently to solve it.

              In cases that are more serious they often solve things properly as well.

              However in certain cases you have to use common sense if you want things done well.

              In many many cases the police or justice department would be the absolute best choice, but in the Oakland county cases they are very much the wrong choice.

              • Array says:

                One more last suggestion.

                Most cops believe they are honest, and they believe they and almost all of their colleagues have integrity. A cop could be in the middle of a department with a hundred scandals and almost always he or she will say ‘Well, I never saw any corruption’. So it really is very hard to find a cop that has actual integrity.

                If you wanted to find a cop who was not prone to ‘going along with the gang’, it would be very hard, but here is an example of one person who both worked as a cop and who didn’t peddle any bullshit about being an honest cop.

                The suicide of Joe Gliniewicz started with a flurry of news stories about a cop being killed by dangerous gangsters.


                All sorts of agencies were flying helicopters around looking for culprits and expending vast resources, but it looked very fishy.

                As more and more info came out, it became clear that hundreds of cops, local state and federal, were putting on a show to hide something.

                Eventually “In early September, Joseph Battaglia, a former Chicago police officer, began calling police agencies and media outlets insisting that Gliniewicz had shot himself intentionally. On September 13 Battaglia was charged with disorderly conduct after threatening officials for not declaring Gliniewicz’ death a suicide.”

                So hundreds of cops at all levels, maybe more, were trying to create this phony hero cop scenario, spending vast resources to do so, and out of all those hundreds, only one actually tried to set things right.

                Very certainly Battaglia lost his job. He would be familiar with the way cops work, the way groups of cops self justify their corruptness etc, and that might be somebody who could review the case accurately.

                There are a million experts, people that claim this and that skill, but he might be one of the very few people who has some substance and could actually identify various tricks the investigators used in the Oakland county killings to obscure facts.

                There are a very tiny few other cops that you might ask to review the case, Frank Serpico is well known and pretty sharp, if he’s still alive.

                You people who are families of the victims have a right to facts, but you seem not to be willing to accept the realities of police work. Finding a genuine honest cop who knows the actual nitty gritty of corruption and police work, and getting them to review the case, would both increase chances of success and give some ‘authority’ stamp of approval to the review.

                I don’t know, nor have ever met, Battaglia nor Serpico, just picked those names because they are examples.

      • Array says:

        A comment specifically about

        “Prosecutor calls $100M Oakland County Child Killer lawsuit exploitative ‘rambling’ WITH VIDEOS”

        Here is a strategy you might try if a victim’s family wants to use the courts to get information, it’s a variation of what the justice dept is doing to the victims.

        1) First you will need at least two friendly litigants e.g. a victim’s family plus an ally of theirs willing to follow the ploy.

        2) Then you will need to carefully research judges and find a way to make sure the case is put in front of the most competent and cooperative judge.

        In most cases there are two competing sides, adversarial.

        In this case you would have two allies playing adversaries, and the ‘fighting’ between them, the flurry of paperwork, would actually be targeting a third party.

        3) Before it starts you would carefully figure out all the people you would like to get information from, and all the documents you want examined publicly, and so on.

        Here is an overview.

        Family member ‘a’ files a lawsuit against private party ‘b’ in a court with a cooperative judge.

        The suit says ‘a’ accuses ‘b’ of interfering in something by doing so and so.

        There are two groups of lawyers, a’s lawyers and b’s lawyers, but when the media is sleeping these two groups are working together to figure out how and who to subpoena.

        Unfortunately the judge has a lot of discretion to push his or her biases, as happened in the case linked above but if the judge understands the ruse and is helpful it could work.

        You would have to be very careful with the lawyers involved. Do not use a Michigan lawyer who works on police corruption cases obviously. Do not use a lawyer who was formerly an employee of any federal agency or police department etc.

        The biggest problem with the ploy is that it would be expensive. Another weakness is that you would have moles from various agencies knocking on your door offering help.

        It would, above all else, provide information to the general public about defensive strategies used by crooked official organizations, and it might pry loose some useful documents or facts if you got enough subpoena power and other abilities to use.

  3. crimebuffy says:

    Why are the MSP still being so obstinate? News flash, it’s no secret that Bob Robertson, Ralph Cabot, and Joe Krease dropped the ball big time!!! What kind of commander in LE would allow high school kids to look at tips in a murder investigation? It makes you want to smack Dave Robertson when he laughs as he tells that story and says “ he and his twin brother didn’t see shit!” Didn’t see shit? How odd because tips were there on Greg Greene, Chris Busch, Arch Sloan and Ted Lamborgine.I think it’s a good thing Gray & Robertson are no longer the gate keepers. Unfortunately they proved what lying sneaks they were and I’d wager a hefty sum they destroyed and distorted evidence.

    • cathybroad says:

      Absolutely they did, and so did their predecessors.

    • Judi Coltman says:

      I didn’t even finish reading your comment yet before I felt compelled to scream – “I Know! WTF!” When I first viewed Robertson laughing as he told the story of his father giving him and his brother leads to read, my blood boiled. Rereading his condescending email to me when I contacted him regarding the tip and experiences of my family during the weeks after March 16, 1977 confirms he is nothing but a gatekeeper and has zero interest in solving any of these crimes.

  4. Terry B says:

    Once again, I was unable to post a message. I forwarded the same message to Lin Wood.

  5. Terry B says:

    I’ll try posting my last message in pieces: Cathy, lately I’ve been reading as much as I can on the documents you’ve posted and I’m going over some of it at least twice. If I follow things correctly, it seems as though they were out to punish Larry Wasser for talking about the case.(?) It also seems to me that Wasser was hinting or evoking a hint that the head of the MSP, at the time that Wasser was involved in the case, was the person that should be looked at.(?) It’s interesting to me that your Dad suspected that Chris Busch was murdered, because I was thinking the same thing several years ago already, but for perhaps a few different or additional reasons. The thing that first got me into the study of these cases that I’ve focused on, was because of an article about the Innocents Project, which of course is all about DNA evidence freeing wrongfully convicted people. The computer search….

  6. Amy says:

    Was there DNA evidence which belonged to Vince Gunnels in the Bonneville?

    In 2012 Jessica Cooper made a big deal, alerting the media and publicly announcing a big break in the case. The hairs found on Mark and Tim matched DNA evidence found in the Bonneville.

    Eight years has gone by since that announcement. What’s the deal? Follow it up. Who’s DNA is this?

    • cathybroad says:

      The hairs in the Bonneville presumably did not match any of the 14 or so DNA samples they have collected, including that of Gunnels. Eight years. Crazy.

  7. Terry B says:

    message continued:
    The computer search engine, on the subject of DNA, then linked me to the subject of Dennis Kaufman claiming his step-dad was the Zodiac Killer. When I got around to viewing his message board, there were a number of people immersed in that subject, and I wanted to ask questions, but it would have been unfair to do so at that time because I knew practically nothing about the subject. However, I found some of his evidence interesting and I also felt and still do feel that his handwriting comparisons are compelling. So, I did a crash research and reading course on the subject. His deceased stepfather, Jack Tarrance, died in the fall of 2006 and is the only suspect ever named that fully fits the sightings and description to a T, so to speak. However, the opposition to including Tarrance as a valid suspect is organized and fierce….which speaks volumes, IMHO. Kaufman himself has credibility issues due to his own character. Nanette Barto was his MB moderator at the time. About the time I was set to bail out on the subject, MS Barto was stating that the writing on the Ramsey ransom note belonged to Tarrance, and that she was tipped to look at that document. She was kind enough to patiently answer my questions, like: “How could she tell, because the ransom note look so squiggly to me.” Then a person that was at odds with practically everyone including me, other than Dennis and Nanette, calling herself cateye, piped in with “Jack’s signature is all over the Ramsey ransom note.” Well, I set out to disprove that statement, but I was truly…..

  8. Terry B says:

    message continued:
    Well, I set out to disprove that statement, but I was truly stunned to find that the Ramsey ransom note is practically saturated with JT letter combinations. So, then I got sucked into the damn Ramsey case. I never bought that the parents or their son was involved. Fact: The girl suffered two strangulation events, left claw marks on her own neck with her own fingernails and suffered a massive blow to the back of her head, which the low-life tribal member, “liar for hire,” Dr Werner Spitz wrongfully reported as a blow to the top of her head and named her then 9 year old brother Burke as the suspect, in Sept of 2016. However, Burke was cleared and in writing by two LE entities way back in 1997! DNA later cleared the Ramsey’s, and unidentified male Caucasian touch DNA was found on her garments in multiple locations. Nanette put me on to the OCCK case and I assure you that the whole damn crime is something that I like to refer to as “Zodiac Jack 101.” After reading your evidence pages, I’m more convinced of it than ever. Nanette would probably prefer to hear me say that Tarrance was “the guy,” but all parties have to understand that I intentionally put a partition between Tarrance and the Zodiac killer, because technically; Tarrance is a “suspect.” Do I think that they are one and the same? Yes I do, and one of the strongest items that causes (part of this message is missing because of a computer glitch, or hack)

  9. Terry B says:

    I’ll have to recall what I all wrote and then post the remainder of my message later on. I will say that the most key piece of evidence that shows that Jack Tarrance is “the guy,” is found on a key document from the 1947 Black Dahlia murder case, in which Tarrance hinted his actual name by both structure and phonetically. BTW, Elizabeth Short’s, aka The Black Dahlia remains were left at: N34.0164 by W118.333, this relates directly and circuitously to the very odd $118,000 ransom demand. JonBenet’s remains were posed as a mimic of E. Short’s defiled remains. Cathy, one of your strongest items of evidence came from the women that stated that she saw a red hatchback Vega near the dump site of your brother’s remains. Please try to understand that I very intentionally don’t write about everything I’ve discovered, and especially that “poetic and rhyming” hints. Those same “poetic and rhyming” hints are practically overwhelming in numbers.

  10. Array says:

    One commonality in crimes involving police officers is the unusual amount of very strong evidence that develops against alternate suspects.

    There are a lot of indications that the Zodiac killer was a cop, but there is enough evidence against at least half a dozen other people to easily have convicted any of them, people like Arthur Leigh Allen, Earl Van Best, Louie Myers and others had enough evidence against them that they could have been convicted if not for the other suspects.

    Also at least four people have claimed that their father was the Zodiac killer.

    The Golden State killer likewise. Very interesting to look at the cases of others who may have been convicted of his crimes.

    The more shadowy the original corruption the more suspects seem to emerge with strong evidence.

    The LISK killer was almost certainly a cop or group of cops. The feds and Long Island police gave elaborate cover to the lisk killer for years. When things got too hot they cooked a case against John Bittrolf on unrelated murders then tried to suggest he was lisk. Anybody can look at the specifics of the evidence used in the John Bittrolf case and see that the Suffolk county detectives falsified it. How no media or interested parties expose things like that is bizarre.

    The point being that you have a lot of excellent suspects in the OCCK case. Some of the information about those suspects is public, some is private. So a person who wants to push ‘xyz’ as a suspect only has to control which evidence is visible to whomever.

    You will always have a ‘best suspect’, somebody against whom there is enough evidence to keep you distracted from seeing the bigger picture.

  11. Array says:

    One more short comment for people who don’t click links.

    “The four possible new victims listed in the lawsuit are Donna Serra, who was abducted in 1972 in St. Clair Shores…”

    “Three weeks later, on October 20, 1972, her body is found in Ray Township……Donna was wearing the same clothing she’d worn to school the day she disappeared. Blue jeans, a blue and white top and brown shoes.”

    “It appears that Donna was held captive for several days and drugged “with barbiturates” according to a 1993 news story. The cause of death was strangulation.”

    There’s an obvious similarity anybody would notice, but what is more interesting is the similarity in investigative tactics with what agencies like the FBI do in the Brittanee Drexel case and other cases. They tried to use various ways to separate, or connect, cases in order to steer the investigation towards, or away from, a geographical area.

  12. ninainnsted says:

    All I can do is hope that there are still pieces of evidence available for better testing protocols, better than what was available 10 or 20 years ago. If we can find the evidence, let’s test it. – Nina

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