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Felonies: DNA helps to identify Michigan runaway teen from 1979

With the significant advances in technology, more and more cold cases are solved based on DNA evidence. In some cases, it might only serve to determine the identification of remains that were recorded as unknown decades ago. However, it could also lead to arrests and convictions of felonies if DNA evidence of perpetrators is discovered and linked to a cold case crime.

In mid-February 1979, a 15-year-old Michigan high school student disappeared without a trace. With no leads to his whereabouts, the investigation became a cold case until a retired deputy suspected that the remains found in an unnamed grave were that of the boy who disappeared 39 years ago. He obtained DNA from maternal relatives of the boy and compared it with DNA of the exhumed body.

The DNA test results confirmed the suspicions of the retired deputy. Further investigations determined that the teenager ran away from home, hitchhiked down a main road and was struck by a semi-truck. Although the alleged hit-and-run driver of the truck will likely never be found, the family can hopefully find some sense of closure after all these years.

With the advantages that come with DNA technology, anyone in Michigan or other states could one day answer a knock on the door and find law enforcement claiming he or she was involved in a cold case. The most logical steps to take in such a situation is to retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney with a specific interest in cold case felonies and DNA. A lawyer can conduct an independent investigation and pursue a defense strategy that was devised to achieve the most favorable conclusion.

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