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New Zealand

Genetic Testing could provide leads for cold cases

Please attribute to Detective Superintendent Ross McKay:

NZ Police and the institute of Environmental Science Research (ESR) have begun a trial in the use of a genetic investigative tool on two serious crime cold cases, Operations Dallington and Sturbridge.

The family of Mellory Manning, who was murdered in Christchurch in December 2008 (Operation Dallington) and Alicia O’Reilly, who was murdered aged 6 years, in Auckland in August 1980 (Operation Sturbridge) have been advised of these developments.

We acknowledge this is a difficult time for these families and hope we can provide them with the information they need to seek closure on these cases.  

Forensic Investigative Genetic Genealogy (FIGG) combines DNA testing with genealogical research to analyse genetic relationships between individuals who share very small amounts of inherited DNA with the crime scene DNA sample using genealogy databases and publicly available records and is being used internationally to help solve cold cases and identify human remains.

Using techniques like FIGG, has the potential to provide investigative leads and potentially resolve some of the most serious unsolved crimes.

This is a complex investigative tool and only cases where suitable DNA evidence has been captured during the criminal investigation would be considered, after all other investigative avenues have been considered and exhausted.

To meet New Zealand conditions our forensic service provider, ESR, reassures that all physical sample testing is completed in New Zealand and extractions of the digital genetic code will be provided to a third-party international service provider with no actual DNA material needing to be sent outside of New Zealand.

Results from genealogy websites, where submitters provide law enforcement access to their records, are used as the basis of genealogy searching of publicly available records such as genealogy database, church records and libraries. 

Criteria has been developed and assessed to determine the trials success. A staged approach to measuring success has been developed and an evaluation of the trial will be conducted at the conclusion of the use of FIGG for these two cold cases.  

Using techniques like this, provides Police with the opportunity to resolve these cases and make our communities safer.


Jarred Williamson/NZ Police

https://www.police.govt.nz/news/release/genetic-testing-could-provide-leads-cold-cases Genetic Testing could provide leads for cold cases

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