Saturday, February 09, 2019

The DNA and What It means

At long last, we have been given details about the DNA evidence detectives have gathered in the Amy Mihaljevic case. Here's what you should know.

- Three hairs were found on or near Amy's body when it was recovered in February 1990. One on her body. One on her sweatpants. One on her underwear.
- Each hair is from a different person. This could mean these hairs were transferred to Amy's body from the car she was taken in or from the crime scene (the house of the suspect) she was taken to. For instance, these hairs could be from a relative or friend of the suspect that wound up in their car and then on Amy's body, the way a hair from Amy's dog ended up on the curtain used to wrap her body. Or... it could mean that more than one person was involved in the crime. That perhaps we are dealing with a small group of men who participated in the abduction and assault of Amy.
- The DNA they have recovered so far is degraded, offering only small snippets of a genetic profile. Think of a DNA profile as being 1,000-rung ladder. What they have right now is a snapshot of four or five rungs. Not enough to connect to a specific person (yet) but enough to rule people out.
- They still have the hairs and are waiting for technology to develop where they feel comfortable resubmitting the hairs for further testing. Another test would destroy their sample so it has to be good. They get one more chance.

One thing that means a lot to forensic genealogists are haplogroups. These are groups of people who share a common ancestor. When people look for relatives online, they use these haplogroups to figure out who they are related to.

The haplogroups of the three hairs are:

1.  Hair from body - H2a2a
2.  Hair from sweatpants - H1cf
3.  Hair from panties - H1a1
These are all from white Europeans. 


Now, hair #2 is unusual and may actually help police narrow down their list of suspects further. Because that haplogroup - H1cf - is seen in populations who also have a higher risk of developing schizophrenia or major depressive disorders. That sounds like our guy, maybe.

So how about it, armchair genealogists? Is there more to derive from this limited information at this point?


Kym Arnold said...

Thank you for sharing & keeping her case open. That is Awesome.

lynne said...

you are such a good man, james. all of us, and amy, thank
you for keeping this alive.

Anonymous said... the DNA data is from 2006 & 2007? DNA testing & evaluation has progressed light years since 2006. Very interesting though-especially with the recent cold cases that have been solved using genetic genealogy!

LEM said...

Has Runkle given a DNA sample? Seriously, they got a DNA sample off the car handle in a parking lot for the Golden State Killer....cant they find a way to get his DNA and at least see if it fits one of the 3 catagories? So basically you can eliminate all non white males and thats about it?
Thanks for sharing and keeping us step forward two steps frustrating!!

James Renner said...

They have his DNA like many other suspects. I do not know the results. However, if it matches a suspect it's not enough at this point to say it's his. And if it doesn't, it's possible these hairs came from someone else who took a ride in the suspect's car.

Krissy said...

Thanks so much for sharing the info and the video. And thanks also for all that you do.

Allie B said...

I was going through old episodes of “True Crime Garage” and came across the episode you did with them-it was great. Really informative, and compelling. I’m so glad I found this blog to keep up with the case because I feel like it’s SO solvable, and they’re this close to the break they need. Thank you for keeping Amy’s case alive.