A murder case of 1988, which remained unsolved for decades have been cracked now after 34 years by the Georgia law enforcement agency. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Georgia Bureau of Investigation, has used the forensic genealogy to solve this murder case.
It was in December 1988, when two Department of Transportation workers in North Georgia found a young woman’s body on Interstate 59 in Dade County, about five miles from the Alabama state line. The woman had been strangled and abandoned on a northbound lane. But her identity and that of the killer remained unknown till 34 years.
In March 2022, the investigators announced they had identified a body found on a Georgia highway in 1988 as Stacey Lyn Chahorski, a Michigan woman who had been missing for more than three decades. Due to anonymity, she used to be known as Rising Fawn Jane Doe.
Further investigations were carried out and then finally on September 8, 2022, the investigation agency announced that Chahorski was killed by a man named Henry Frederick Wise. The interesting part of this case is the murderer was also identified by the genetic genealogy.
The law enforcement officials said that they had found what they believed to be the killer’s DNA at the crime scene, but they were unable to link that DNA to a person. But after the identity of the victim was revealed, they sent the DNA sample to a specialized lab, which created a genealogical profile for the suspect and produced new leads for investigators to run down.
The FBI official said that the killer Wise had a living family member who was interviewed, cooperated, and a DNA match was confirmed.
Wise was a struck and stunt driver who drove through Georgia on his regular route which would have put him in the direct route where Stacey was found. The investigating officials have found that he had a criminal history of theft, assault and obstruction of a police officer.
His arrests predate mandatory DNA testing after felony arrest, which is why genealogy was used to reveal the connection to the DNA. In 1999, he was killed in a crash at Myrtle Beach Speedway in South Carolina and was burned to death.
Ms. Chahorski’s skeletal remains had become degraded and damaged over time, which is a common challenge with cases that are decades old. Bodily fluid found near where Ms. Chahorski’s body was discovered was eventually traced to Mr. Wise.
The identification of both the victim and the killer was done by a private specialized lab named the Othram which collaborated with the GBI. After Othram built the DNA profile, the information was turned over to law enforcement in Georgia, who did the genealogical research.
Genetic genealogy uses the DNA databases to find a desired match among a large network of people. In this technique the DNA is extracted from the body remains and then directed to forensic grade genome sequencing.
A family tree is built, by finding people in a database who consented to have their DNA on file with law enforcement. This field has grown a lot in the past few years and has a great future in further years and gives hope to a lot of such cold cases which still remain unsolved.