Salisbury Police Department investigators recently sought the services of Parabon NanoLabs (Parabon), a DNA technology company in Virginia to help the agency solve the 1984 Reesa Trexler murder case. Law enforcement agencies across the country use the company’s Snapshot® DNA Analysis Service (Snapshot) to advance investigations when traditional DNA methods fail to produce a match. The newest Snapshot service offering, investigative genetic genealogy, uses advanced DNA testing in combination with innovative genetic analysis, sophisticated identification techniques and traditional genealogical methods to establish the relationship between an individual and his/her ancestors. For forensic investigations, it is used to generate highly informative leads as to the possible identity of an unknown victim or offender.
In the investigation of Trexler’s murder, Parabon submitted a genetic data profile
created from the crime scene unknown DNA sample to a public genetic genealogy database for comparison in hopes of finding individuals who share significant amounts of DNA with the unknown subject. These genetic matches served as clues to inform traditional genealogy research: first, family trees of the matches were constructed back to the set of possible common ancestors using online genealogy databases, newspaper archives, public family trees, obituaries, and other public records, after which descendancy research was employed to enumerate the possible identities of the unknown subject.
Other information, such as age, location, triangulation between matches, and/or ancestry and phenotype (trait) predictions, were used to narrow down the possibilities before a final list of leads was produced.
Salisbury Police then used traditional police work to continue the investigation whereupon a suspect was identified. The suspect has been deceased since 2004. Salisbury investigators were subsequently assisted by the Rowan County District Attorney obtaining a court order to exhume the suspect’s body. The North Carolina State Crime Lab confirmed that the newly acquired DNA positively matched the DNA profile from the crime scene evidence. The analysis and investigation confirmed the suspect in the case was not a family member as had been speculated. With the suspect being deceased, the Salisbury Police consider the case closed and do not anticipate any charges being placed in relation to the homicide.
Parabon NanoLabs, Inc.
Parabon® NanoLabs , which developed and operates the Snapshot® DNA Analysis Service, is a vertically integrated DNA technology company located in Reston, Virginia, that develops next-generation forensic and therapeutic products, which leverage the enormous power of DNA. Staffed by a uniquely qualified team of scientists, analysts, and technologists, with expertise ranging from bioinformatics and genetic genealogy to chemistry and computer science, Parabon is bringing to market revolutionary new products and services made possible by recent advances in DNA sequencing, analysis and manufacturing technologies.
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Media Inquiries About the Snapshot Technology Can Be Directed To:
Parabon NanoLabs Contact
P: 703.689.9689 x250
Other Cold Cases
For further details about other Salisbury Police Department cold cases, visit the city of Salisbury's dedicated web page at www.salisburync.gov/ColdCases.