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
In these modern divisive times, even the genetic genealogy community has been torn into two camps. Is it modern nature to react with emotion rather than thought? With the “are you with us or them”? Is this what overuse of social media has done to us? I can see both sides of the issue. Some of you may wonder what I am even talking about ….
Cece Moore on Dr Phil explaining how she uses DNA to find criminals (click image to go to that site for the article and video)
The problem has arisen because Law Enforcement (LE) has been using DNA and genealogy databases to help find violent criminals and to resolve many old and cold cases like the Golden State Killer (GSK) case. They are using the techniques and tools that were developed for breaking genealogical brick walls and helping adoptees find their biological families. Personally, I applaud this usage and the closure it brings to the families of the victims. A dear 4th cousin of mine lived in fear during her adolescent years in Sacramento because of the GSK.
However the issues of concern for many genealogists are privacy and consent. Frankly, I think you should not test your DNA if privacy is a worry of yours. So many people have tested now that you can be easily identified if you do it too. My son and two nephews have chosen not test for that reason.
How about consent? Consider the site GEDmatch.com, which was developed to let people compare their DNA tests with testers from other companies, as well as provide many helpful additional tools. If you uploaded your DNA there in the past, had you given your consent for this usage? After the GSK case. I marked all the kits I control as research until each person had responded with permission to open it up. Most were happy with the thought that their DNA might out a distant cousin who was a criminal. Polls show that 90% of Americans are OK with this too.
I have been asking everyone again since GEDmatch now has an specific opt in on each kit for LE usage of those test results in comparisons. There is also an opt in for whether the link to your WIKItree compact tree should show. Both are important. Until many more people have opted in, the benefit of the database for LE is very limited.
Why the opt in now? Why is the genetic genealogy community so divided? What happened?
One of the first things I do when helping someone with their DNA results is to check if their parents are related. This can explain unusual patterns of matches, for example, all seemingly from one side.
GEDmatch.com has a nice tool called “Are Your Parents Related” (AYPR) in the”Analyze Your Data” blue panel (middle right of page) which looks for places in the specified kit where the DNA is identical on both chromosome pairs, maternal and paternal. This happens when you inherit the same segment of DNA from each parent because they are related. We call this a homozygous run which is a fancy way of saying a stretch of identical DNA on both sides.
CeCe Moore specializes in helping people who make this discovery. Click here for the informational brochure she helped Brianne Kirkpatrick, genetic counselor, create. It includes where to get emotional support.
My goal is to help you figure out what the DNA means yourself. Can you deduce what the relationship of those parents is? Well a very simple rule of thumb is to multiply the shared DNA from AYPR tool by four and look up that new total at the DNA painter calculator for the possibilities. Then do further family DNA testing to confirm.
Why does this work? Let’s look at the numbers. Suppose your parents share 25% of their DNA. They will pass about half of that to you, so 12.5%. However only about half of that will be the same DNA so it will show up as about 6.25% on the AYPR tool.
Look at the image. The total is 215.3 when you multiply by 4 you get 861.2. You might look that up before you read on …
The videos from i4GG conference are finally available and I have not yet finished looking at Rootstech videos! You can purchase any or all of these videos from the i4GG site.
Personally, I went immediately to the presentations I missed at the time because they conflicted with another talk I went to.
Carol Rolnick, a fellow member of DIGG (the North San Diego DNA special interest group) gave a talk called “Tips and Tricks from the Genetic Genealogy Trenches” at the same time as my talk on “What’s new at GEDmatch on 2017” so of course hers was the first talk I listened to (after my own).
Several tips she gave were new to me. For example, did you know that in Chrome you can right click on an image and get google to search for it? Sometimes this works to find the name of an individual on your match list who has used a pseudonym. Of course a lot of the time it does not find a name but rather you get something like “official” or “portrait.”
The i4GG genetic genealogy conference is coming to San Diego next weekend and it features a track for adoptees as well as one for genealogists. For those of you who want to hear me speak, I will be doing a talk about the tools at GEDmatch on Saturday morning.
DNA testing has broken many brick walls for family historians and has been a miracle for the adopted, helping them find their biological families where traditional methods have failed.
Cece Moore, the i4gg conference organizer, has pioneered this field and has developed a methodology that succeeds over and over again. She described this in her cameo appearance on a recent Dr. Oz episode that featured an adoptee who found her birth family with Cece’s help. Click the image to the left to go to the online clip of the episode.
A simple explanation of the methodology is as follows. An adoptee tests their autosomal DNA at all three major companies (see my DNA testing page) and then uploads those results to all the free third party sites as well. Sometimes they get lucky and find a close family member who has tested and who is willing to help. More often they must look at the family trees of their 2nd and 3rd cousin matches to see what ancestors are in common. Once a shared ancestral couple is found, they build a family tree forward in time, looking to see if one of the couple’s descendants was in the right place at the right time to be the adoptee’s parent.
To learn more about this methodology come to the conference, or buy the videos of it, or go to DNAadoption.com or join DNA detectives at Facebook and read through the files there. Or do all of those things.