How genetic genealogy helped nab a Detroit serial rapist

A Detroit man named Lionel Wells was sentenced last week for sexually assaulting five teenage girls between 2007 and 2014. He’s the latest perpetrator of a violent crime identified with the help of a relatively novel investigative technique called genetic genealogy.
— Read on

The Catholic Church

Sigh. Yes, these men are dangerous as long as they are alive. Who would know better than one of this priest’s victims?

He was going to ask for her i.d.


I have a number of Google alerts set concerning the OCCK case and today this landed in my in-box. I have not, nor will I, read this book, but please listen before moving on:

Of much greater interest to me, and by coincidence, today an author shared something more compelling:

No outlet would post Jason’s review, but he shared it with me so I could read it. For me, this also raises yet another theme, how “legends” get kudos when maybe they are not due and the power imbalance that influences what people read and believe.

This reminded me of another fiction book written with the “back drop” or “overlay” of the OCCK crimes covered by the NYT in May 2020, For me, this reader’s comment summed it up in a different way:

Hawaii 19-Year-Old Was Found Slain in Home 50 Years Ago — and Suspect Was Just Charged After Son Provided DNA

Hawaii 19-Year-Old Was Found Slain in Home 50 Years Ago — and Suspect Was Just Charged After Son Provided DNA
— Read on

Honolulu PD worked with Parabon Labs. DNA from a bloody towel at the crime scene–fifty years ago, a genetic genealogy search, and further investigating resulted in the arrest of a 77-year-old man. It’s never too late. Keep looking over your shoulders, freaks.

McKinney Homicide (7 and 8 of 8/final)

Now go get some fresh air. And take a shower.

McKinney Homicide (5 and 6 of 8)

McKinney Homicide (3 and 4 of 8)

FOIA documents, John McKinney homicide (1 and 2 of 8 links)

Would welcome any insights and observations and please post them here (or after next few posts) so everyone can consider them. These documents cost me $1,729.84. There are 878 pages (there were really 880, but I missed numbering and scanning two blacked out pages that were entirely redacted and there was no indication what they were either by placement or by described exemption). So now we are probably approaching the $25K-plus mark in this case in money spent trying to get answers. The red numbers are mine–total pain in the ass when they aren’t numbered and things get tossed around. Some of the pages appear to be out of order, but I numbered them as they were presented. All of the yellow highlighting is mine.

I post them for the sake of transparency and for any insights/observations that we can share. Obviously my interest was in whether or not this man was ever investigated as a suspect in the child killings. See for yourself. Redactions were described as being on the basis of “suspect info, phone numbers, SSN, birth information.” Birmingham PD played fair with me, I have no reason to believe the redactions are not legitimate.

If you use the documents for any project, article, blog post, podcast, book, bogus work of fiction, etc., please do not even imply that you lifted a finger or spent a dime to obtain these documents. All you had to do was hit a few keys on your computer and read. If you are, for whatever reason, hesitant to post a comment here you can email me at

There is a fair amount of duplication in these records, but this is how they came. Each file link is about 100 pages, give or take. Here are the first two of eight:

The Medium.

Soon after McKinney’s murder, his widow went to a “fortune teller.” FOIA 496. The medium recounted a number of things known only to police at that time. As you can imagine, given the early stages of the investigation, the era, and the community, there was virtually no “inside” information about this crime in the press. (Really, there never was.) The police took notice and contacted her. FOIA 503-04. Not even going to try to summarize–check it out:

On October 31, 1977, police took the medium up on her offer of further assistance and detectives from Birmingham PD met her and her husband, who followed police over to the McKinney gallery. A summary will not do the report justice, so here it is, along with the notes taken contemporaneously:

Keep in mind what the medium told Yvonne McKinney and police as you read the FOIA response. Just a few observations–

  1. The medium sees a connection with Ohio and Georgia. See FOIA 119 (interviewee suggests police check with a David Booth Cooper in Ohio) and FOIA 750 (interviewee tells police “a year or two ago [McKinney] spent some time on an island off of the Georgia or [redacted-??] or S. Carolina coast it is a funded thing where somebody suggest’s you to these people and they say we are gonna give you some money or two or three weeks time to come down here do what ever it is you wanted to do with your time and he was doing his writing on energy.”) FOIA 449 re: Georgia as well. See below.
    • Another possible Ohio connection–Maxwell Kincaid, an inmate at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio, serving a sentence for bad checks, wrote the task force because “I myself know who killed the little Timmy King and also the Stebbins boy in your area. I know where the person is and all about him.” (See Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, page 216-17.) Robert Robertson wrote back expressing reluctance to visit but a willingness to speak on the phone or via a more detailed letter. The man, who wanted immunity, went dark.
  2. “She stated that the business was a front for something else.” Consider marked paragraph at FOIA 459, below.
  3. She stated that something was hidden.
  4. She stated that she saw a boy by the name of Mark. The police report adds “this would have been John’s son.” His son was 19 in 1977, married and living on his own. I can think of another Mark who might have come through to the medium.
  5. While in the back gallery area the name Paul came to her.
  6. She asked if John was sadistic. Yvonne stated that “she thought possibly somewhat.”
  7. The medium said that she could see McKinney and that he liked to see people suffer.
  8. The handwritten notes say: “When Mrs. Edwards was leaving, I walked to the car w/her & Mr. Edwards & all of a sudden she stated “Arizona”–I want to go to Arizona–talk to the man in Arizona. Doug Webster was living in Scottsdale, Arizona and police do in fact go to Arizona to interview him .

While in the work room on the second level, she said “I feel heavy like I am going to be sick” and she wanted to get out of the room. As I said, my money’s on the medium.

Documents referred to in 1-8:

Before or after you read the FOIA response that follows, in addition to considering what the medium intuited in 1977 about McKinney’s murder and about him, you may want to read or reread Portraits in the Snow: The Oakland County Child Killings…Scandals and Small Conspiracies, by M. F. Cribari (2011),  Just sayin.