Blog Post 3: The Process of Finding People Using Genetic Genealogy

The third and final of Arianna Jeanbaptise’s blogs about genealogy and the Bear Brook case for her senior project applied piece.

Blog Post 3: The Process of Finding People Using Genetic Genealogy

Welcome to my last blog post. To summarize the last two, I discussed the technical aspect of genetic genealogy which consisted of fingerprinting and different databases used. Then on my very first blog, I discussed what genetic genealogy is and how it might evolve in the future which will include a greater amount of databases and less technological use for DNA testing. Over the course of the last couple of months, I was able to learn so much about the Bear Brook case itself, as well as DNA, fingerprinting, and most importantly, the genetic aspect of it! This project will be something that I take with me into college as I will be studying criminology. 

In today’s last and final blog post, I will be discussing how long it takes to find victims using genetic genealogy. According to Sergeant Matthew Koehler, when testing an individual for DNA samples, the process can take between 24-72 hours. Once that’s completed, the process of taking it into a database can exceed after 14 days, meaning typically it takes up to 14 days for it to be processed into a database, but this process could always take longer than 14 days.

 There will be many challenges and maybe even technical issues that will make the process even longer. A challenge that many genetic genealogists face is having DNA matching take longer than expected. This is because genetic tests have to have a specific gene for an individual. With the Bear Brook case, DNA testing took a while because Terry Rasmussen was not cooperating as much as he should have been. Because he went by so many names, he knew that eventually officers would realize that all the names he used for himself would eventually match up with his face.

Another important aspect of this case was the hair follicle. Since the four victims have been deceased for so long, the scientist that investigated the hair took DNA between two samples of each victim and then the hair was put under a microscope. This process did take a while, it is unknown how long it took, but because of having to receive DNA from a deceased person and having to test it, it would be estimated to take between 2 weeks to a month.

Some takeaways from this blog is that finding victims is a difficult process that genetic genealogists have to go through. There’s so many aspects and steps that have to be done to make sure that the right person has been found or arrested. With the victims, it took up to 15 years to find their identities, meaning it took 15 years to find them and match their identities with their DNA using genetic genealogy. 

To conclude the final blog post, during this process, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sergeant Matthew Koehler as he was a great help in helping me complete my blogs. I was truly able to learn so much more about genetic genealogy. Lastly, I would like to thank my readers for taking the time to read my blogs. Thank you and I hope you enjoyed it!