The Genetic Detective, Gedmatch, and me

I am loving watching the Genetic Detective on ABC every Tuesday night and I really hope you are too. It is a new true crime series starring CeCe Moore which demonstrates the use of genetic genealogy to catch rapists and murderers. As someone who uses similar techniques to solve unknown parentage cases, it gives me great joy to see this show and share it with family. I even announced its debut to my blog’s mailing list.

If you do not get ABC in your television package, you can view it on HULU or wait a week and click here to see it on the ABC website.

It was a lecture by CeCe back in 2012 that got me started on this DNA pathway. After I solved a few of my own family mysteries, I started writing this blog and helping others with their quests. Now I even teach at the i4GG conferences she organizes every year (videos available).

What I hope my friends and family get from this show is a better understanding of how DNA sleuthing works and why they should upload their DNA results and a family tree to GEDmatch and Family Tree DNA to help solve crimes like these. What is most enjoyable for me, is that each week so far there has been a slightly different genealogy challenge for solving the case.

Photo of my TV showing my Compact Segment Mapper at Gedmatch from episode 5

Personally I was really excited to see my name on the screen! A screenshot of the compact chromosome browser I wrote at GEDmatch was displayed in episode 5. Okay, you could not actually read my name it was too small but I knew it was there. Click here for my article about that tool.

My guess is CeCe rarely uses my browser for a case, but it looked good on the screen since is one of the more colorful tools at GEDmatch. I actually had the help of a color blind person when I picked the colors the tool uses. Click here to learn about the original stand alone version of my “segment browser” on this site that takes a CSV file for input.

How my tool looks: my Munson cousins in my compact segment mapper at Gedmatch, click for interactive version

By the way a blue/green variation of color blindness runs in my Wold family line. Click here for that article on my family history site. It clearly requires something on the X to activate since we women don’t have it, although the research says it is on chromosome 7. It used to amuse me to see my father and son agreeing that a purple flower was tan. Clearly I need to track down more descendants of my great great grandparents who could have inherited that color blind bit of X and figure out where it is located. Yet another project to do. Isn’t DNA fun!

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3 thoughts on “The Genetic Detective, Gedmatch, and me

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  1. I am absolutely LOVING CeCe’s show — from the very first episode. I’m not a murder mystery “type” but I’m ALL IN for anything DNA-related. I’m sure I learned about the show through your post and I KNOW that I’ve learned SO MUCH from you — through your posts AND your helpful presence and presentations and personal assistance at the meetings in Carlsbad!

    At the start of the stay-at-home time, I used all the tools I’ve learned from you and others to SOLVE a brother and sister’s “OH NO, our dear Grandpa wasn’t our bio gramps”… I have yet to fully share with the brother and sister my process and my findings. SOON, IN PERSON.

  2. When they first announced “The Genetic Detective,” I was skeptical that they could make every episode interesting because the basic methodology used by CeCe is similar every time. However, every episode has depicted novel and unexpected challenges in the detective work, and each case has been uniquely fascinating. The show does a great job of emphasizing the teamwork among CeCe, Parabon, and the police forces investigating the crime (the detective team from Idaho in episode 3 was especially entertaining). The show is always careful to emphasize that nobody gets arrested solely based on clues turned up by genetic genealogy, but rather an exact CODIS match and a lot of police detective work is required to reel in the big fish. The scenes where the local detectives stake out suspects, hoping to capture paper cups of cigaret butts are interesting and suspenseful; you want to stand up and cheer when the stake-out team captures a DNA sample. Lastly, the show highlights the delicate social skills CeCe needs to interact with the families of the victims. I too am loving this show.

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