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DNA leads to Arrest in Florida Woman’s 1999 Murder

On March 29, 1999, Deborah Dalzell’s body was found inside her home off Colony Meadows Lane in Sarasota, Florida. Her co-workers were concerned when she did not show up for work. When deputies arrived, they found her brutally beaten, sexually battered, and strangled. Who did it remained a mystery for nearly two decades. The main piece of evidence left behind was DNA from the suspect.

The mystery man was finally unmasked this week. Deputies announced the arrest of 39-year old Luke Fleming. At the time of the murder, he lived less than a mile away from Dalzell. Fleming was charged with murder and sexual battery with great bodily harm. He remains in the Sarasota County Jail on a $1.2-million bond.

“Thanks to DNA evidence coupled with ancestry and genealogy, we’ve finally connected the dots,” said Sheriff Tom Knight.

Prediction: “Hundreds” of Crimes will soon be Solved using DNA Databases

Genealogist CeCe Moore is well known for her work in using DNA information to solve “cold cases” for police departments. She has now indicated this is just the beginning of such work. Suspects in hundreds of unsolved murders and rapes will be identified using public DNA databases in the near future, according to her statements at the recent MIT Technology Review’s EmTech conference.

CeCe Moore is the head of a genealogy unit at Parabon Nanolabs. The company has already helped US police forces identify suspects in nine grisly crimes since last spring. It does so by using crime-scene DNA to locate relatives who have uploaded their own profiles to a consumer genealogy service. Once blood relatives are located, the identity of suspects can be inferred from family trees.

In addition, a volunteer group called the DNA Doe Project has been identifying human remains, and a forensics organization, Identifiers International, has said it is working on a dozen murders.

You can read more and watch a video in an article by Antonio Regalado, MIT Technology Review’s senior editor for biomedicine, at: http://bit.ly/2OF7zKJ.

MyHeritage now Supports 23andMe version 5 and Living DNA Uploads

Here is another industry first from MyHeritage. If you are using MyHeritage’s FREE DNA matching service or are thinking of using the FREE service soon by using DNA results obtained from another testing company, you will be interested in this news. According to an announcement from MyHeritage:

“We now support the upload of 23andMe v5 and Living DNA data files, in addition to supporting data uploads from all major DNA testing services, including Ancestry, 23andMe (prior to V5) and Family Tree DNA (Family Finder).

Upcoming Changes to the FREE MyHeritage DNA Matching Service

As of December 1, 2018, MyHeritage’s policy regarding DNA uploads will change: DNA Matching will remain free for uploaded DNA data, but unlocking additional DNA features (for example, ethnicity estimate, chromosome browser, and some others) will require an extra payment for DNA files uploaded after this date.

MyHeritage will announce the full details of the new policy once it is finalized, closer to December 1st. All DNA data that was uploaded to MyHeritage in the past, and all DNA data that is uploaded between today and prior to December 1, 2018, will continue to enjoy full access to all DNA features for free. These uploads will be grandfathered in and will remain free.

MyHeritage Partners with British Retailer WHSmith to Distribute DNA Kits

The following announcement was written by MyHeritage:

Tel Aviv, Israel & London, United Kingdom, September 7, 2018 — MyHeritage, Europe’s leading service for DNA testing and family history, announced today the launch of a retail partnership with WHSmith. This marks the first partnership of its kind for MyHeritage in the UK, and the first time that MyHeritage DNA tests will be available for purchase in retail stores in Europe.

Under the new partnership WHSmith distributes a unique product named MyHeritage Family History Discovery Kit, which bundles MyHeritage’s popular at-home DNA test with 3 months of access to MyHeritage’s suite of premium online genealogy services. This allows consumers to receive detailed ethnicity reports and connect with their relatives around the world through the power of DNA testing, and to utilize MyHeritage’s 9-billion-strong collection of historical records and family tree tools to embark on a journey to uncover their family history.

Like It or Not, Everyone might soon be in a DNA Database

There is an interesting article by Stuart Leavenworth in the Herald.net web site:

“Familial searches led California authorities to arrest Joseph James DeAngelo in the Golden State Killer probe in April, and investigators have since used it to make breakthroughs in several other unsolved murder cases, including four in Washington state, Pennsylvania, Texas and North Carolina.

“But as these searches proliferate, they are raising concerns about police engagement in “DNA dragnets” and “genetic stop and frisk” techniques. And as public DNA databases grow and are accessed by law enforcement, investigators may soon have the ability to track down nearly anyone, even people who never submitted their genetic material for analysis.

“’If you are a privacy zealot, this is super alarming. It means you don’t have any privacy,’ said Malia Fullerton, a bioethics specialist and professor at the University of Washington. ‘On the other hand, if you have no problem with police using your family information to solve these cold cases, you might see this as a good thing.’”

Father and Daughter Reunite on The Megyn Kelly Today Show Thanks to their DNA Tests

New Hampshire social worker Kim Fairbank, 51, always knew she was adopted. After a rough childhood of familial disappointments, she yearned to connect with her biological family. She tried DNA testing and waited for answers. It was MyHeritage DNA that brought Kim the match of a lifetime — with her biological father.

You can watch the reunion in the video below or on the MyHeritage Blog at: http://bit.ly/2ofsB6Z.

Can Siblings Have Different DNA Ethnicity Estimates?

If you are learning about DNA, there is an interesting article in the MyHeritage Blog that you might want to read:

“It comes as no surprise that when two siblings are DNA tested, their results will usually be similar. What is surprising to many people, though, is how two siblings (not twins) with exactly the same parents and ancestors can receive different ethnicity results. After all, identical ancestors should give identical ethnicity estimates, right?

“Well, it’s not that simple. In fact, it’s rather common for siblings to have different ethnicity estimates. There are several factors that can affect genealogical ethnicity. We’ll take a look at those factors here.”

Ancestry.com Says 23andMe’s DNA Patent is Invalid

Several months ago, genealogy company 23andMe Inc. filed a lawsuit against rival Ancestry.com claiming false advertising and patent infringement. 23andMe asked the courts to invalidate the “Ancestry” trademark. The lawsuit claimed Ancestry sells a DNA-based ancestry test that infringes 23andMe’s patent. See my earlier article at http://bit.ly/2L9ewBC for the details.

In court yesterday, Ancestry told a California federal judge that the patent is invalid under the U.S. Supreme Court’s Alice standard because it’s not inventive and relies on natural phenomenon.

A decision by the court is expected within a few weeks.

DNA Testing Companies Offering Genetic Testing Pledged to Follow Voluntary Guidelines

The following announcement was posted to the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) mailing list by Jan Meisels Allen and is republished here with her permission:

In light of the recent familial DNA testing by the public DNA site GEDMatch,  private genetic testing companies pledged on July 31 to follow voluntary “Privacy Best Practices for Consumer Genetic Testing Services”. The companies pledged  to obtain consent from users before sharing “individual-level information”, including personal information, and genetic data with other businesses.   The concern over privacy of the DNA data, which resulted in the “Best Practices” pledge stems from law enforcement being helped by using the familial DNA matching to find the suspected Golden State Killer (he has not yet been convicted so I am saying suspected) which did not require a court-ordered warrant and other potential cold case criminals.

DNA Testing by the Canadian Government to aid Deportations Leaves Plenty of Room for Misinterpretation and Mistreatment

The Canada Border Services Agency recently has been collecting the DNA of immigrants and using a genealogy DNA website to find and contact their distant relatives and establish their nationality.

Border security has become a political hot potato with the arrival on foot from the United States of 30,000 asylum seekers since January 2017, putting strains on Canada’s refugee system and provoking a public backlash. Most of the refugees being refused entry are not U.S. citizens escaping the political turmoil south of the Canadian-U.S. border. Instead, most are originally from other countries, often ones that do not have extensive records of their own citizens’ births or other vital statistics.

Canada announced last week it was expanding the collection of biometrics such as fingerprints and photos for refugee claimants, individuals facing extradition, and foreign nationals seeking a temporary resident visa, work permit, or study permit. CBSA claims it always obtains consent from the individual before submitting their DNA to these websites.

MyHeritage DNA Opens a European Distribution Center

One recent press release caught my eye and may interest European readers of this newsletter: MyHeritage Ltd. has opened a new distribution center for its DNA testing kits in Tilburg, a city in the south of the Netherlands, the company announced Sunday. The new center will ship and collect kits to and from most countries in Europe. Customers in Norway and Switzerland will be serviced through the company’s U.S. offices.

The move is part of a wider plan to accelerate MyHeritage’s growth in Europe, Ran Michnowski, vice president of operations for the company said in a statement.

The full announcement may be found at: http://bit.ly/2OvxS6z.

23andMe’s DNA Library to be used for Drug Development

If you had your DNA tested by 23andMe (as I did), your information will be used to help develop new drugs for various medical conditions. However, not everyone is happy with the idea of using personal information for use in developing products by a for-profit company in a for-profit research project.

23andMe has partnered with pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), in a bid to develop new drug treatments. 23andMe, which gives customers insight into their genetic makeup via postal saliva tests, has some five million customers — a potential DNA database considerably larger than those generally available to the scientific community. “By working with GSK, we believe we will accelerate the development of breakthroughs,” 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki wrote in a blog post.

Xcode Life Releases Free Do-It-Yourself Tools for Ancestry DNA Raw Data Holders

If you are very familiar with DNA as used in genealogy, you may be interested in this software tool announced this weekend by Xcode Life of Chennai, India. The company sells a variety of DNA raw data analysis tools software tools. Here is the company’s announcement of its newest product. the Interformat Data conversion tool:

Xcode Life has announced the release of a suite of free DNA raw data analysis tools catering to the personal genomics community. These tools help in getting the most value out of raw data from ancestry DNA tests from various companies such as 23andMe, Ancestry DNA, Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage, Living DNA, among several others.

CHENNAI, India – July 21, 2018 – Xcode Life, a global personal genomics company has released a suite of free tools to help individuals with the analysis of DNA raw data provided by companies like 23andMe, Ancestry DNA, Family Tree DNA and My Heritage DNA.

Findmypast and Living DNA Announce a Partnership

The following announcement was written by Findmypast and Living DNA:

  • The two leading British companies are creating a new DNA experience focused on uncovering British & Irish roots
  • New service will be launched in Fall 2018
  • Living DNA tests now available at Findmypast  

Thursday July 19th: Leading British and Irish family history website, Findmypast, has today announced a new partnership with the providers of the world’s most advanced DNA test, Living DNA.

Together, the two British companies are creating a new DNA experience that is designed to help customers explore their British and Irish roots. This new experience will combine cutting-edge science with traditional family history research methods, allowing families to discover more about their past and present.

How Can Siblings Have DNA Showing Different Ethnicity Estimates?

If you have a DNA test performed and it shows 35% German ancestry, 25% Irish ancestry, 10% Scandinavian ancestry, and the rest from the Middle East, does that mean your brother or sister will show exactly the same results if they also take a DNA test? Actually, the answer usually is “no.”

How can full-siblings have different ethnicities when they have the same parents? It’s a consequence of the complex relationship between genetics, ancestry, and ethnicity.

Common Misconceptions about DNA Testing

When learning about any new technology, it is equally important to learn what the technology CAN do as well as what it CANNOT do. In fact, there are numerous fallacies floating around concerning DNA testing.

A new article in the MyHeritage Blog explains why some of these fallacies are inaccurate. You might want to read the article at http://bit.ly/2KP5lKN.

 

MyHeritage Launches New Filtering System for DNA Matches

I have only used this briefly but it certainly did work well for me!

MyHeritage has released a brand new filtering system for DNA Matches — which will be very helpful for anyone looking for DNA cousin matches.

Quoting the announcement on the MyHeritage Blog:

“DNA Matches are people who share DNA segments with you. Each DNA Match is thought to be related to you, with one or more shared segments inherited from one or more common ancestors. By now, the DNA database on MyHeritage has grown so large, that most users on MyHeritage have thousands of DNA Matches. Managing all those DNA Matches, and making sense of them has become a challenge — and this is exactly where the new filtering system comes in!

Genealogists Turn to DNA and Family Trees to Crack Five More Cold Cases

A few weeks ago, any mention of using DNA matches to identify long-unsolved murders created headlines around the world. This crime-solving technique has become popular so quickly that it might not even rate a mention in today’s newspapers. It’s happening everywhere!

An article by Heather Murphy in the New York Times briefly mentions 4 murders and one suicide that have produced new evidence in the past few days from GEDmatch.com‘s DNA matching service. The same article also prominently describes the efforts of CeCe Moore, a genetic genealogist now working with Parabon, a forensic consulting firm, and a person well-known to genealogists who use DNA in their family tree research efforts.

You can read the article at: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/27/science/dna-family-trees-cold-cases.html.

MyHeritage Offers Free DNA Tests to Help Reunite Separated Migrant Children with their Parents

The following announcement was written by MyHeritage:

We have just announced that, following the recent separation of immigrant parents and children in the United States, MyHeritage is expanding its pro bono initiative, DNA Quest — which helps reunite adoptees with their biological families through DNA testing — to help those parents who were detained at the US border reunite with their children. We are pledging 5,000 additional free DNA tests for separated parents and children who are interested in this opportunity.

For the DNA kits to reach the affected people, MyHeritage has begun contacting relevant government agencies and NGOs that are able to provide assistance with distribution of the DNA kits — to parents in detainment facilities and to their children placed in temporary custody. MyHeritage is also calling the public to assist — anyone who can help with the distribution of the DNA kits and is in touch with the separated families is requested to contact dnaquestsupport@myheritage.com. The DNA results will be processed by MyHeritage and not shared with any third parties.