M.S. Chemistry, UC San Diego
B.S. Biology, Humboldt State
B.A. Women's Studies, UC Berkeley
Statement of Purpose
The goal of DNA Investigations is to bring Genetic Genealogy services to local law enforcement and members of my community. I am passionate about solving cold cases and genetic genealogy can provide new leads to law enforcement. I am thrilled that genetic genealogy can be used to answer heritage questions that traditional genealogy failed to answer. But neither of these feelings can top the gut-punch I felt in 2018 with the arrest of the Golden State Killer. In that pivotal moment, the groundwork for DNA Investigations was laid.
I was a Criminalist at the California DNA Databank from 2007-2017. The entire state was frantic and united in the hunt for The East Area Rapist, known now as Joseph DeAngelo. In this fervent climate, I learned the art of crime analysis as we scanned thousands of RAP sheets and painstakingly examined incomplete DNA samples for the killer’s profile. We were in fact so desperate we devised the D3 Program—Deceased DNA Databank—just in case the killer died in prison before giving DNA. As part of the CODIS unit, I dropped everything when Sacramento County DA’s office called. I ran hundreds of criminal identification numbers in our databank over the years—all to no avail. And then came the 2018 arrest, and we were all stunned.
Since then, I’ve gathered my composure and wrapped my head around genetic genealogy, the new DNA pathway for human identification. I forgave Sac County’s 5-member investigative team for achieving in a few months what an entire state of law enforcement personnel could not achieve in 4 decades. Rerouting this passion, I will bring genetic genealogy education and services to my community.
To reach the public, I teach DNA courses, belong to several local genealogical societies, and contribute articles for newsletters. Through my website, social media, and word of mouth, I promote scientific and ethical discourse and market my genetic genealogical services to adoptees, children of unknown parents, and donor conceptions. To reach law enforcement, I email, call and network, urging local agencies to embrace SNP µ-array testing and apply for grant funding to solve cases. Similarly, I work with Coroners and investigators to evaluate and fund cases of Unidentified Human Remains.
As awareness of genetic genealogy increases, so does its recognition as a legitimate practice worth doing carefully, legally and transparently. Because genetic genealogy has value in both solving cold cases and guiding family history, we must diligently and ethically bring genetic genealogy skills into our own hands and evaluate the worth to our community as a whole. Law enforcement and heritage seekers alike will serve themselves well by investing upfront the effort required to learn about and practice genetic genealogy. Collaboration is emerging as a crucial tenet of genetic genealogy, highlighting the importance of communication between town folk, law enforcement, genealogists, scientists, and prosecutors. With such a broad base, everyone’s opinion will matter—DNA is not just for scientists anymore. I am excited to be part of this groundbreaking method of solving crimes and finding family and honored to be a grassroots usher for a new era of human identification.