To recap Darlene’s case, we go back for a bit to 3/17/1987. She was a 20yo specialist in the 73rd maintenance company at the US Army’s Fort Carson base in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The morning after a night out with fellow service members, she was found in the back parking lot/dumpster area of the Korean Club Restaurant. She was found nude except for a pant leg at her ankle, and her body was brutally broken. Darlene had a wire hanger wrapped around her head (namely her mouth area), a rope around her neck (the strangling was what killed her), bite marks on her body, and her right breast was mutilated. She had also been viciously sodomized, causing severe internal injuries.
Codis came around in the 90s and early 2000s, but the DNA profile of the unknown suspect never came up as a match in the database. Remember, CODIS is the database both the state and federal governments use to house DNA prolific of both known offenders and unknown offenders.
There was a time when police and locals thought maybe it was POS Jeffrey Newsome who killed Darlene. He was also stationed at Fort Carson around the time she was, and he got himself reassigned soon after she was killed. If you remember, he went off to Alabama, killed a local woman there and got his ass hauled off to prison. People thought Newsome was good for it, because he also liked mutilating his victims breasts, and he also had a penchant for wire hangers. Also, he was in CODIS, and he did not match up with the DNA evidence found on Darlene’s body that morning when she was discovered.
And then we find ourselves in early 2019. Police had worked with Parabon Nanolabs at the end of 2016 and the lab had created a phenotype composite of what the suspect might look like, both back in the day, and currently. Nothing had come of the release of these images and so now, CSPD Detective Joseph Somosky, is sick and tired of being sick and tired. And he calls up Parabon to help them out again. He calls on the lab to create a family tree off of the suspect DNA. And they did! And this is what we get…
Really quick, let’s just get refreshed here about what the researcher is looking at. He or she is looking at a chart - it’s got like 7-10 columns of information, and each row is any entry for a specific person somewhere out there in the world that somehow is genetically linked to our suspect. But we don’t get names, unless you use your name. You can use an alias, which is what a lot of people do. Each row also gives us, among other things: a kit number (aka a dna profile ID), a centimorgan share number (aka how many DNA itty bits match between the DNA kit and the suspect) and an email to get in touch with the person who manages that kit.
So when we see that column of cMs, that itty bitty autosomal DNA that connects us to our ancestors... we want big numbers - right? Big numbers - such as 1500-3000 - will show us parent child relationships and sibling relationships. We get those, the genealogist could be done by lunch time, and move on to the next case.
So when the genealogist, we’ll call him Grant, worked the case for the uploaded DNA profile into GEDmatch, he came up with a whole list of people that are genetically linked to it. Which is what we want, which is great! But he wasn’t looking at 3000 cM, or even 1000 cM…. He was looking at numbers under 100cM. In fact, the highest cM match on this list, was a whoopin 87.6 match. got maybe ...second cousin once removed… third cousin… maybe sixth cousin… so this wasn’t going to be so cut and dry.
So I’m going to use pseudonyms here - because privacy - and I’m going to assign names based on how high that shared cM number is. The shorter the name, the closer the person and the suspect are in the family family. Or at least, based on the number they share.
Our first match is Lee - she shares 87.6 cM. One of the columns does give you gender. Or at least the sex you were born with. So he knows Lee is a female, and he clicks on her kit number link and the next page gives him the chart for her shares, or matches. He sees that she has a parent child relationship with the 2nd top person on the suspect’s match list. We know this because their cM share number is through the roof - or, 3300 or higher. So now we have this daughter, we’ll call her Claire. She shares 74.7 cM with our suspect profile. Oddly, Lee’s account was managed by her daughter Claire, but Claire’s profile was being managed by her own cousin. I wonder why, that’s interesting.
Ok, so Grant gets Somosky the emails associated with Lee and Clarie’s accounts, Somosky emails them to see if they’ll give more info about the family, and they hope they get a reply.
Match #3 is yet another female - I love this, sorry gents, but it’s the ladies taking this fucker down - and she shares 67.3cM with our suspect. We will call her… Heather. She gets two syllables. Grant clicks on her name, and finds that she does NOT have Lee or Claire on her list. So that tells us something. We now know we’ve got at least one person each, for two branches of the family tree. We have two on one branch, and one on another. But which branches? We could be looking at the dad’d dad, the dad’s mom, the mom’s dad, or the mom’s mom. We don’t know.
Police email Heather, too, asking for more info about her family. It sure would be nice of her, wouldn’t it? Make things a lot easier than it’s looking right now. Really? No 2k cms? Sorry, not this time.
You see, these cM numbers…. 67 all the way up to 87 - we are talking about having to hop around the family tree generation chart, like 6-9 times to get from the suspect box to the GEDmatch person box… Grant is looking at the suspect being maybe second cousins once removed from any of these ladies, if he’s lucky. Fourth, fifth or sixth cousins, if he’s not. If these ladies don’t email him back - this is going to suck. Opting In only gets LE and genealogists to see your numbers - they don’t know anything else. They don’t know how old you are. They don’t know what state you live in. They do get your sex assignment at birth, yes. If you use an alias, they don’t know you’re name… let alone your grandparents names, or they’re brothers and sisters names, or phone to call, etc. But if Lee and Claire and Heather do decide to email LE back, that’s going to help him out a lot!
Gedmatch users that offer names, dates, locations, and other stuff - they are so important. Huge! It’s like rolling a double in Parchessi you’re automatically skipping ahead like 7 spaces - it’s awesome. Or no wait - it’s like getting on a ski lift! You’re not trudging up the mountain… you’re getting a nice ride to the top, and you need to save your energy, because skiing down the hill and not killing yourself is no easy feat.
Lee and Claire and Heather all made their username/public name, whatever you call it… those boxes in the charts have their actual names in them. So what can they do with them? So they start with Lee. Check this out, You ever heard of the phrase “work smarter, not harder”? Exactly. My kids have heard it from me a zillion times. Well, Parabon has done a shit ton of these family trees over the past few years and they’ve got like - what - 300 IT employees supporting the server, so they actually have their own growing database of names, years, locations, etc. So Parabon, Grant, puts Lee’s first and last name into their own database, and somehow it spits out her 4 names. Now they’ve got her first, middle, maiden, and married names. And they do the same thing for Claire, her daughter, and then for Heather, the lady on a different branch. We get Lee, born in 1933 and from Wisconsin. Claire, her daughter, was born in 1963, and then we get Heather, born 1965, currently living in TX.
Grant’s also going to check the other people on the share list on GEDmatch. #4, #5, etc. And he’s comparing the suspects' matches against each other to see if they are from the same family tree branch. If they're not, he checks a different branch. So it’s like, “does #5 show up on the match list for Lee, who is #1? Nope. What about Heather? Nope. Ok, so here is our third branch of the grandparent generation. What about #6, #7… etc?” Eventually, Grant has groups of cM match-shares for three of the suspect’s four grandparents branches.
There’s only so much into he can get in house. The affidavit does not divulge as much info about the relatives and their lives as we here on the podcast would like, there’s nothing interesting here about people from the Great Depression or the Vietnam War. We don’t get things like “she moved here, single with 4 kids after her husband died of dysentery.”
So he takes what he knows about Lee - name, age, town - and find her public records. Maybe she was in the newspaper when she was kid, and maybe the article mentioned her parents by name. Then he searches the parents names, now we are trying to find their parents names.
But we do know where these ladies fit in time. Here we are talking about Lee specifically. And our suspect was likely, what 20-40? Definitely not younger than 15 or older than 60, right? And if Lee is related to our suspect as a second or third cousin, and she was born in 1933… and she might be one generation older than him, then Grant needs to get back in time to her great grandma… great-great grandma? Or Pa? Folks, we’re talking about finding public records and family relations dating back to the early 1800s. IDK, where is he finding this shit? Beats me. Most of us know the LDS church has the largest family history archive in the country, maybe even the world. But does Grant have access to that? Nope. But it’s not that bad. Because what I’m about to tell you, is going to blow your mind. For those of us who have not taken the plunge into searching our family history, and who are not already targeted individuals, this is going to be a mind fuck. These “public databases” that we hear about… they’re real. It’s not just like, Newspapers.com, College yearbooks, and military cemeteries. I googled genealogy resources and wouldn't you know it, the US government has a site to help us out. If your in Canada or overseas, you’re government might have one too. Here we are going to go to: https://www.archives.gov/research/genealogy
We get links to help us research people based on different aspects of their lives. Each has a link that will get you to a page to help you explore that particular topic. Here’s a few:
- African-American Research
- Bankruptcy Case Files
- Caring for your Family Archives
- Census Records (1790-1940)
- Chinese Immigration
- Citing records in the National Archives of the United States
- Congressional Records: Private Claims and Private Legislation
- Court Records
- Electronic Records for Genealogy or Other Personal Research
- Ethnic Heritage Research and Resources
- Exploration and American Expansion
- Federal Employees
- Immigration Records
- Income Tax Records of the Civil War Years
- Internal Migration
- Japanese Americans
- Land Records
- Maps of interest to Genealogists
- Microfilmed Records
- Military Records
- Native American Records
- Naturalization Records
- Naval Records
- Passenger Lists
- Passport Applications
- Post Office Records
- Pre-Federal Records
- Social Security Records
- State Department Records of Genealogical interest
- Tax Records
- Vital Records
Wow. I tried to follow the Navy, to see if I could find my Grandfather… I got three pages in and gave up. But thank god for us and for Darlene’s family - Grant knows what he’s doing. He’s been trained for this, certified, he’s got the links, he just needs the time, really. And of course, for them to show up in these archives.
Finally he gets to Lee’s gg-grandparents, and we will never know how their cMs compare to our suspect’s, but being 100 years removed from him, it’s a really tiny number. So their names are Bartholomew and Esmerelda Alexanderson. And now this will mean that someone from another branch married a descendant of the Alexanderson’s, and then we go forward in time, and then eventually we will come to the end of the line to a male descendant, living in or passing through Colorado Springs in early 1987. We just have to find that intersection.
Moving on, Grant starts working on Heather’s side, going back into those public resource links, finding places, family owned businesses, military service… government job records… and he gets back to the 1800s again, finally.
Grant also found cM share #9, and this was Maximilian, at a low 45cM. Max was born in the year of “Unknown.” But somehow, he was able to find Max’s parents, and then again go back and back and back, and ultimately found his ggg grandparents.
And still Lee and Claire never emailed CSPD back. Maybe they talked about it and were like, ehhh, too close for comfort. Or, because they are 86 and 56yo, they didn’t get the email? Not sure about Heather. But we cannot deny the fact that they have helped us. It’s just going to take some more work and time for Grant, but it’s fine, he’s up to the task.
Finally, our angel on earth, our dear dear genealogist Grant, begins to work himself forward to the present day of these 3 top shares he started with in GEDmatch. He needs to find all the children of each of these long dead and gone ancestors. We know families came in all sizes back then. Two kids or seven, you never know how many you’ll end up with. And he needs to find where they lived during their life too. Because we need the end result, this possible name for this suspect, to be in the Fort Carson area in 1987. That’s a must. If we can't get a descendant - a male descendant - at that place and at that time, we’re fucked.
Grant finds kids for the ggg grandparents, and who they married! And the kids they had. And where they lived. And so on and so forth. It’s insane. Imagine going back, child back to parent, child back to parent, child back to parent. And then coming forward, knowing each parent is going to give you possibly multiple children, and you have to check each one of them out. Any of them could be the one that eventually leads us to Unknown Male Suspect #1. But we won’t know we’re on the right branch until these 3 branches start to marry each other. Along the way, these families have to meet. If he is comparing the timelines of two families… and they never meet up, then Grant knows one of them has to be wrong… But which one is it? Yeesh. This seems harder than going back in time. I think I’ll just stick to research and telling murder stories.
And finally, finally, finally, Grant is able to give a name for Detective Somosky to look into. So let’s see if I can identify these people’s relationships clearly, without having to use “second,” “third,” or “once removed.”
In the end, Maximilian’s gg grandma - her brother was Michael Whyte’s GGG grandpa. This branch was on his father’s mother's side of the family.
Heather was related this way: her gg grandmother was sister to his mom’s, dad’s, mom’s dad, one of his gg granddad’s on his mom’s side. And Lee and Claire! They are related to him on his mom’s side too. They are also on his mom’s side, related by Lee’s grandma - her brother was Whyte’s g-grandpa.
Oh, and Claire got a verified 4th cousin along the way! Centimorgans and all. Whyte’s match #10 was Michaelangelo, another low match at 41.5 cM, and matched Claire at 39.8.