Older people in Michigan and elsewhere might remember a case from Dec. 1987 when a 17-year-old girl’s body was found naked along the road in another state where she was dumped after she was raped and killed. The ever-advancing DNA technology helps investigators to reopen unresolved murders, rapes and other violent felonies decades later. A man was recently arrested for that young woman’s death, and her family might find closure after more than 30 years.
The DNA evidence obtained from under the victim’s nails consisted of a sample containing some of her and a second person’s DNA. A forensic genealogist used new technology to separate the two samples. After comparing it to the DNA of the deceased girl’s sister, investigators could isolate the second person’s DNA and enter it into a genealogy website. This led them to the suspect’s third cousins.
After further investigation, they isolated three brothers who were identified as suspects. One brother who worked close to the area where the girl was last seen in 1987 then became the prime suspect. Investigators obtained a warrant to get a DNA sample from the suspect, and they allege that it matched the DNA isolated by the forensic genealogist. The 67-year-old man was arrested and held in jail from where he pleaded not guilty during a video arraignment.
If a grand jury indicts the accused man, the prosecution will continue. Even with all the evidence investigators obtained, the man will remain innocent before the court unless and until the prosecution proves his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This is where the skills of an experienced criminal defense attorney become invaluable, and the same applies to anyone who is accused of rape, murder or other felonies in Michigan. Legal counsel can scrutinize investigators’ methods and work to obtain the best possible outcome for the client.