This is a follow up to episode 149.  Here’s a True Crime story about how one detective solved a 30 year old cold case by learning about something completely different.

In this episode, I talk about:

  • Cold Case from 30 Years Ago
  • How an adopted child found her parents after 50+ years
  • How Police will use (or are using) genealogy to find criminals


Good morning everyone. Welcome to the path to 1 million. This is episode 154. So just to let you know that this is a little bit of a followup to episode 149 where I talked about how I did eight hours worth of work in five minutes. And it just so happened that yesterday I was listening to one of my crime podcasts and they told the story that I thought was just absolutely fascinating. Probably a lot of other people would find it like really boring. But again, like I said, for some reason I have this thing about true crime and how they solve crimes, how they catch criminals. So just wanted to share with you a little bit about this particular story and how it’s applicable to that other episode. But again, if you haven’t listened to or watched episode 149, make sure you go back and do that real quick.

So let me lay it a little bit about the background here. And what the cool story was that unfolded. So it was back in the 70s, and this little eight year old girl was killed was murdered. The police had a ton of DNA evidence of the, of the man who perpetrated this crime. They didn’t have any suspects at the time. And the investigation went nowhere. The case went cold. We’re talking like a span of like 30, 40 years that this case went cold. Multiple detectives worked on the case over the years. It was reassigned, it was assigned to cold case detectives and they tried to work it and they couldn’t get anywhere. And like decade after decade went by and this crime was unsolved. Now you would think with them having a ton of DNA evidence that it would be super easy for them to be able to catch the criminal.

But here’s the deal with the police and how the DNA evidence works is that when they have the DNA evidence and they finally get to a point where DNA is actually an option for, for police officers to use. The DNA has to be an exact match to somebody who is already in the system. So if they get DNA from the right criminal, the right person who committed the crime or potentially committed the crime, they put it into their database and then they compare the two together for like an exact match and it’s like one in four quadrillion or something else like that. But it has to be an exact match. So what happened in this case is that whoever committed this crime and killed this little girl apparently was never arrested for any other major crime or any other felony for that matter.

Because a lot of States out there, they have laws where if you are a felon, if you’re convicted of a violent crime, you have to give up your DNA and it goes into the system. And then that is, that has actually helped them clear a lot of back cases. But in this case, it seems like whoever committed this crime never was arrested for a violent crime and they never had their DNA taken. So police were at a complete loss as to what it was that they were doing. So anyways, in episode 149, I talked about the importance of being able to detach yourself from your situation and especially a problem that you are addressing and be able to like take a look around, you know, what, what’s going on around me and cause somebody else has already had this same problem and they’ve, they figured out a way to solve it.

It’s just a matter of you taking the time to figure out how they solved that and being able to apply it to your situation. So this detective, this new detective that was assigned this case, cause they never close out they never close out murder cases. There’s no statute of limitation on murder cases. This new detective was working at his desk one day and he got a phone call out of the blue, completely unrelated. This lady called him and said, you know, back in the back in the 60s as a baby, as an infant, I was left on the porch of these people’s houses. And no one knew who my parents were. The detectives tried to find my parents. They were never able to find them. I had a good life. I had an adopted family.

They absolutely loved me to death, but it’s important now that I find my biological parents because there’s some health issues that have popped up and I want to understand the family history about it in order to get proper treatment. I wanted to ask if there was anything in my case file, the original case file that could help me find my biological parents. And of course, all this detective, he wasn’t even born when this lady was left abandoned when the detectives at that time work the case. The detective who did work the case actually had passed away, but he went back into the archives, tried to find the file and he couldn’t. He just, they didn’t have anything on it. And again, this is like we’re talking like 40, 50 years ago. So he came back and told the lady, I’m absolutely sorry we don’t have anything on your case file.

The detective who worked it passed away. I talked to some other old timer detectives and they weren’t exactly sure that they remembered you or anything like that. So I’m terribly sorry I don’t have anything for you. And she says, Oh, that’s okay. So maybe like three or four months goes by and she reaches back out to the detective again and she goes, Hey, I just want to let you know that I found my biological parents. And he says, how in the world did you do that? Well what she did is there’s websites out there, these genealogy websites that are out there where you send them your DNA and they run your DNA into their database and they can actually come back until you if there, if you have any relatives that are out there, cause people are submitting their DNA to these websites like all the time.

So she submitted her DNA to this genealogy DNA phenom website and they came back and said, Oh, we found your biological mother and we found your biological father and this is who they are. And she was very happy about that because she was, she able to reconnect with them and get answers to her questions. And so the detective was like, how in the world did this work? You know, you managed to find your parents after all these years and stuff. So you know, he and he kind of started learning and educated himself on how this whole genealogy DNA project actually worked. So then the question that he asked himself was, can we use this to help find a perpetrator of a crime. We may not have an exact match to DNA, but if we could like locate their family and somebody in their family who might be good for it, this could really help us out.

So what he did is he took a look and it was like any, are there any detectives out there that are using this cause this is like, this is a brand new. There’s no case law, there’s no legislation passed on doing this. So he took a look and there was some detectives in Washington state that had a cold case. They had five suspects, but they didn’t have enough evidence to compel any kind of a warrant to get their DNA. So what these detectives did is they use this service. They said, we have the DNA from the perpetrator. They gave that DNA to this service and the service ran their analysis and looked at family markers and they came back and they said, you know, we don’t have an exact match in our system either, but we can tell you that the perpetrator belongs to the McNally family.

And the detective goes, Holy cow, one of our suspects, his last name is McNally. And they said, well, he belongs to the McNally family. Whoever your perpetrator is. So there you go. So these detectives went to a judge. They explained to him the technology, how it worked. He issued a warrant for the DNA from this McNally guy. They went and got the DNA and they ran it and it was an exact match. So it actually helped them close the case. So now this detective was all excited. And he’s like, you know what, I want to do this as well. So, you know, moral, his story is that they were finally able to get everybody on board and it took months to do this, but they were able to get everybody on board. And when they finally figured out, you know, through genealogy who this, you know, potential person was, they were able to get a warrant to get his DNA, the guy’s DNA.

It was a match. And they saw this cold case, you know, 30-40 years that this case sat cold and they were able to do it because this one detective actually had the foresight to take a step back and say here’s somebody who had a problem that was kind of sort of like ours. They’re trying to find somebody and this is how they solved their problem. And he was able to use this other piece of technology, this other piece of tool to be able to find the perpetrator of this crime. So this is like bleeding edge stuff. This is like some piece of new technology out there that we’re going to see probably more and more law enforcement officers use to help them close even more cases to get them closer to finding this person. Cause man, how many times out there this do police have all this evidence but they have no clue on how they perpetrated the crime.

So anyways, I just wanted to give that an example of just taking yourself detaching yourself from the situation, finding somebody who’s got a similar problem and being able to adapt what they, what they used to you. Like I shared with you guys yesterday I’m a little bit of a true crime junkie when it comes to this stuff. Like I really like less than half for the stuff. But I heard this example yesterday and I was like, yeah, I just talked about this just the other day. So just wanted to share that with you. I hope you guys are having a fantastic Sunday. Thank you so much for stopping by. Thank you so much for letting me your ears. I really do appreciate that. I will be back again tomorrow with another story. Have a great Sunday and I’ll see you then.