(NewsReady.com) – A California woman got the shock of her life last month, after an online DNA test linked her to an unsolved murder. Just to make things even more bizarre, the crime dated back to 1986 — before she was even born. Luckily for her, it turned out she’s only distantly related to the victim, and didn’t become a suspect.
— New York Post (@nypost) February 3, 2023
On January 18, Jackie Vadurro of Palm Springs, CA, was eating a lunchtime salad when her phone rang. Although the caller ID was hidden, she answered anyway — and found herself talking to San Diego homicide detectives. She listened, astonished, as the cops told her the DNA test she’d done for popular genealogy site 23andme had linked her with an unsolved 1986 murder. The victim, an unidentified woman who had never been reported missing, had been shot in the chest and dumped beside a rural road near San Diego. According to detectives, her DNA showed that Vadurro was her closest known relative.
In a January 20 TikTok video, Vadurro said detectives had told her the victim was probably an illegitimate child abandoned by what they called a “scoundrel,” which would explain why nobody had reported her missing. After Vadurro and her mother sent DNA samples for more analysis, they calculated that the Jane Doe was Vadurro’s second or third cousin, and probably descended from her great-great-grandfather’s illegitimate child.
Vadurro said police told her this was the biggest break they’d had in a year, and added that she hoped her involvement would help “catch the horrible person who killed her,” but the case does highlight the fact law enforcement can often access DNA records from sites like 23andme or Ancestry. It also shows that if your DNA is in an online database, it doesn’t just affect you.
Vadurro’s relation to the victim is through someone born in Mexico four generations back — but detectives were still able to link them. It just goes to show how powerful the DNA information you put out there can be.
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