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Case Closed: DNA Technology Help Cops Crack Cold Cases

DNA technology has made incredible advancements over the years. With DNA phenotyping, police can solve cases that have gone cold for years. DNA phenotyping can predict what a victim’s or suspect’s face could look like from a single drop of blood.

Last summer, a group of hikers stumbled upon the skeleton of a female victim alongside a Baltimore highway. Cops were unable to identify the body for several months. Then, police came across DNA phenotyping technology, which allowed them to generate a picture of the female victim using a very small sample of her DNA. With that image, police could accurately identify the victim and proceed to arrest her assassin.

In New Mexico, authorities were able to find a man who had assaulted a 17-year-old woman with a composite image formed from a single drop of his blood. He was condemned to an 18-year prison sentence. Parabon NanoLabs, a company that provides DNA phenotyping, has been providing this service to police since 2015. The technology costs $3,000 per composite image and has helped solve more than 40 cases.

Dr. Ellen Greytak of Parabon NanoLabs told CNN Business that “in a lot of the cases we work, it turns out that the police had some information that was leading them in a particular direction, and our information completely redirects.”

Although DNA phenotyping cannot identify a person’s age or convict a criminal on its own, it can still help cops crack active cases and solve cold cases. “Cases won’t have to go cold,” said Greytak.

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