Oceanside Mom Publishes Her First Book With The Story Behind The Picture That Started It All

Moore spent the rest of the weekend double-checking her work, uncomfortably aware that she was the only person, other than the killer, who knew who had committed the crime. When the case went to trial, she was able to observe the verdict. Talbott stood, a hoary behemoth of a man. (Scharf told me that he couldn’t get cuffs around his wrists, because they were so thick.) “When they said he was convicted, he collapsed,” Moore recalled. “His female attorney grabbed him, and he said, ‘I didn’t do it.’ I saw it, and I thought, Oh, my God, can I be wrong? Then I thought, No, no, no. His semen was on her pants. Talbott’s DNA was on the zip ties. There is no other explanation.” Tanya Van Cuylenborg’s parents had by then passed away, but her brother was at the trial. Moore said, “It looked, physically, like a burden was lifted off of his shoulders.”

Moore began using GEDmatch to work through a lineup of horrific cold cases. On May 5th, she identified the killer of Terri Lynn Hollis, an eleven-year-old who was murdered in California in 1972. The officers investigating her death had conducted two thousand interviews, over half a century, to no avail. On May 15th, she identified the killer of a teacher who was raped and murdered at her home in Pennsylvania in 1992. On May 30th, she identified the murderer of a twelve-year-old in Washington whose body was dumped in a gulch in 1986. Three days later, she identified a man who had kidnapped, raped, and killed an eight-year-old girl in Indiana in 1988.

She continued this way in the weeks ahead—as if she had discovered a master key to investigative cryptographs made up of imperfect memories, bad evidence, and evasive wrongdoing. Some of the men she had identified were deceased. Some were aging and free; they had apparently been one-time offenders—contrary to the conventional belief that a successful rapist-murderer will likely become a serial rapist-murderer. Paul Holes, who worked the Golden State Killer case, told me that genetic genealogy was revealing a new criminal profile: the rapist or murderer who never “escalates.”

Moore was gaining momentum, but so was a fractious debate, prompted by the Golden State Killer’s arrest. Even in the best of circumstances, the nature of DNA made the question of consent particularly thorny. As one commenter on a genealogy blog pointed out, “When YOU give consent, you are also giving consent for fifty percent of your mother’s and fifty percent of your father’s DNA, too.”

Judy Russell, a blogger known as the Legal Genealogist, noted that, in addition to the problems of consent, police searches were being conducted without judicial oversight. “I think of the DNA results—the links that allow us to reconnect our families—as delicate and priceless vases on glass shelves,” she wrote. “Right now, there’s a bull loose in that china shop.”

In 2019, police in Centerville, Utah, asked Parabon for help with an investigation: someone had broken into a church where an elderly organist was practicing, choked her until she passed out, and then fled. Steve Armentrout told the officers that the crime did not meet GEDmatch’s new terms of service—it was neither a homicide nor a sexual assault—and so the company could not assist them. One of the officers, fearing that lives were at stake, went to Curt Rogers and requested an exception. “The detective said, ‘This guy is out there, and I think he is going to do it again,’ ” Rogers told me. “So I said, ‘O.K., let’s try it this one time.’ ”

Moore’s team quickly identified the strangler. But when news surfaced that GEDmatch had again been involved it caused an even greater uproar. Rogers’s unilateral decision to redefine the policy only stoked fears that private genetic data were being managed by fiat. “In 2012, I called it a ‘DNA geek’s dream site,’ ” Judy Russell noted. “Now that dream has turned into more of a nightmare.”

Striving to navigate the complicated ethics, Rogers rushed to make two key changes. He broadened the site’s terms of service to permit police searches for a wider range of violent crimes. But he also decided that users would, by default, be opted out of those searches, until they explicitly gave permission. GEDmatch by then contained more than a million kits. For anyone who was doing police work on the site, it was now effectively empty.

“To go to zero on this—oh, it was very hard,” Rogers told me.

At the time, Moore was in Idaho Falls, having just helped resolve the investigation that had ensnared Michael Usry, the filmmaker from New Orleans. Not only had she managed to identify the killer; she had helped to exonerate a man, Chris Tapp, who had been wrongfully convicted of the murder. She flew home feeling triumphant.

“I woke up the next morning with zero matches,” she told me. “I went from the highest high to the lowest low.” She had a backlog of half-complete cases; families had been waiting, in some instances for decades, for a resolution. “There were the loved ones of victims, and women who had been raped, who were writing to me,” she told me. She called Rogers. The two had a tearful conversation, not knowing how they could proceed, or even if they could.

The chaos at GEDmatch underscored a fundamental problem with genetic genealogy and policing: there were no rules; anyone could do it, in just about any way. Inside the F.B.I., there was a movement to formally adopt the technique, and with that came attempts to clarify some of the uncertainties. In Los Angeles, Steve Kramer, an F.B.I. lawyer who had helped lead the Golden State Killer case, joined with an agent to prove to the Bureau’s leadership that it was not a fluke. They set a goal to solve twelve cold cases using genetic genealogy, and in 2019 they flew to Washington to present their work to the F.B.I.’s deputy director, David Bowdich. “This is the Lord’s work,” Bowdich told them. “The F.B.I. should own this.”

The Department of Justice, meanwhile, began to consider a legal framework for the new tool. In September, 2019, it issued provisional guidelines, indicating that genetic genealogy could be used only for violent crimes, or for cases that presented a clear threat to public safety or national security. Federal agents were instructed not to upload DNA profiles to consumer repositories covertly, or against the terms of service, and were urged not to trick suspects’ relatives into providing DNA samples. Most important, genetic genealogy had to be treated like a tip, and could not serve as the only basis for an arrest.

There were other significant limitations, but the guidelines remained only advisory, and held little sway at the state level, where many violent crimes are tried. Perhaps for this reason, states began to take notice, too. In 2019, Barry Scheck, a co-founder of the Innocence Project, worked with a legislator in Maryland to develop a bill that would codify and expand the guidelines. “For us to allow private companies to be engaging in this kind of incredibly private surveillance without government oversight, I think, is crazy,” Scheck told me. It is not unusual for law-enforcement officers to get help from outside contractors. But genetic genealogists were being brought into the most sensitive aspects of the investigative process: generating key evidence, selecting suspects. And, while government agencies have strict controls on such data, companies like Parabon faced few legal limits on how they might monetize information that they gathered.

Earlier this year, the bill became law. Moore had advised legislators as they crafted the statute, but, after it passed, she reacted with a police officer’s protectiveness: “If it means that these cases don’t get solved because you’ve added too much of a burden, is that a good thing?” The law requires genealogists to be credentialled, but there are no agreed-upon credentials; flaws like this bothered her. But, when we spoke several weeks later, she seemed confident that the law’s unworkable elements would fall away. “Things will get clarified in time,” she said.

By then, nearly half a million GEDmatch users had opted to allow police to use their kits to identify violent criminals. Some of those people, undoubtedly, were new to the site. More and more people were taking DNA tests. In 2014, barely two hundred thousand people had been tested across all platforms. By 2018, the total was approaching twenty million. Researchers calculated that sixty per cent of all Americans with European ancestry could be identified from their DNA. Before long, they speculated, the number will approach a hundred per cent.

Moore’s furious output resumed. After getting a COVID vaccination, she suffered for days from fatigue and migraines. Nonetheless, she spent her recovery resolving two cold cases. One had been with her for years. “The detective is going to retire, so I have been putting a ton of pro-bono hours into it,” she told me. At the same time, Moore volunteered to help a retired N.F.L. player search for his birth parents. “I got an e-mail from someone who heard a rumor that his parents were half siblings, so I have been working a little bit on that, too,” she said.

Her deadlines at Parabon were piling up, but each new request was a plea that she could not ignore. “I know that if I spend a few hours we’ll have the answer,” she told me. The older the mystery, the more pressure Moore felt to solve it quickly—fearing that opportunities for healing would be lost, as people passed away. “I just identified a John Doe, and I think his mom died in May—and he was lost in 1979,” she told me. “He just missed her. After the first couple of times that happened, it was so devastating. That’s why I don’t want to go out and see a movie, or do something recreational. I could be helping to get these answers for somebody before it’s too late.”

One evening, at Moore’s house, she spoke about a lingering mystery that she still hoped to resolve. It was for George R. R. Martin, the celebrated fantasy author whose books inspired the HBO series “Game of Thrones.” He is now seventy-three.

Moore had first encountered the case years earlier, through “Finding Your Roots.” She began working on the show in 2013, after Henry Louis Gates, Jr., heard her speak in Burbank and hired her on the spot. At first, his producers were skeptical, but within a few episodes Moore had established herself as a force. “We have five geneticists who vet her work,” Gates told me. “There were a couple of things she found that were so astonishing to me—I was, like, ‘We’re going to triple-check this,’ and each of the geneticists said, ‘No, CeCe is absolutely right.’ ”

Source : https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/11/22/how-your-family-tree-could-catch-a-killer

1907
America Together: Uplifting images from across the country

Source:Fox News

America Together: Uplifting images from across the country