DNA key in revisiting 2 Kilgore cold case murders

Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 11:22 PM CDT
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KILGORE, Texas (KLTV) -An East Texas police department is looking back into a couple of cold cases in the hopes identifying victims, and ultimately solving the cases.

Kilgore police are looking back at two cases, decades apart, in the hopes that DNA will provide answers.

A DNA technology company could be instrumental in solving them.

“Where we come in is when you don’t get hits on the database, or don’t get hits on a suspect. These cases that are 30-40-50 years old, it’s now that the investigators are going back to that evidence to see if there’s DNA,” says Ellen Graytak Ph.d, of Parabon Nanolabs Technologies in Virginia.

In December 2000, investigators found the body of a woman in a wooded area near Spinks-Chapman road in Gregg County. To this day she is unidentified and no clue has been found as to her cause of death.

“What’s the first question investigators are going to ask? ‘Who knew the victim?’ But if you’ve recovered even bone, there’s enough DNA in there to still figure out who that person is,” Graytak says.

Parabon analysis told police important things. The woman was of Native American ancestry, a 75 percent chance she was from Central America and had black hair, brown or dark eyes and light brown skin.

“There have been a lot of advances in DNA analysis in the last few years. Genetic genealogy is tying DNA to identity by building family trees. They can get that down to a group of cousins, or siblings, or one person,” the doctor says.

The second case is a 1988 murder of a 65-year-old man found dead from a gunshot wound to the head in his home at Highway 31 west.

Investigators recovered a DNA sample in the home in hopes it would lead to a suspect.

“The challenge is to figure out ‘whose DNA is it’?” says Graytak.

DNA genealogy tying was used in 2018 to identify and arrest the man known as the Golden State Killer, a serial killer in the 1970′s and 80′s in California.

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