Police solved a 20-year-old murder case using the same DNA technique that caught the Golden State Killer.
On March18, Coley McCraney was charged with the 1999 murders of J.B. Beasley and Tracie Hawlett. The teen girls were on their way to a party but were found dead the next day in the trunk of their car with gunshot wounds to the head. DNA evidence was recovered from one of the victims but police were never able to find a genetic match.
Police faced a similar problem in the case of the Golden State Killer. At least 12 murders and 45 rapes were committed in Sacramento in the 1980s, but police never found a genetic match for the DNA evidence. Then, in April 2018, police found their suspect, Joseph James DeAngelo, after comparing the DNA evidence with profiles on a genealogy site. People submit their own DNA to better learn about the family lineage. Police compare the profiles to see if they’re related to the DNA in their possession.
Police in Alabama were inspired to try a similar matching system. DNA evidence was uploaded to the site GEDMatch, a public database where people upload results from at-home kits. Analysts compared the DNA with family trees on file.
Labs sent Alabama police a list of names connected to the DNA evidence and McCraney’s name was on the list.