Monday, January 16, 2012

Police trace DNA of 1991 killer back to Mayflower family

By Lee Moran and Meghan Keneally (paraphrase of original story)

The 1991 murder of a teenage girl on her high-school campus may now be closer to being solved — thanks to the DNA of a 17th century family.Seattle police investigating the death of Washington 16-year-old Sarah Yarborough ... have matched crime-scene DNA samples to the historic family of Robert Fuller, from Massachusetts, whose ancestors settled in Salem in 1630 after coming over on the Mayflower. It means one of his descendants could be responsible for the teenager's death.
But as almost 400 years have passed, the number of suspects could now run 'into the thousands.'Forensic consultant Colleen Fitzpatrick said, "The most important thing is having a last name. People get excited about having a Mayflower connection, but the most important thing is having a probable last name for this guy."
... there are over 34,000 Americans that can trace themselves back to one of the 26 familes on board the Mayflower. Dr. Fitzpatrick was undeterred at the scale of the manhunt they would now have to undertake, saying that "geography and physical characteristics" could help detectives narrow their search.
Following the murder, the King County Sheriff's Department circulated two composite sketches of a possible suspect. He was a man in his 20's at the time of the attack, with shoulder-length blonde hair. He was said to be wearing a black trench coat and driving a 1970 tan Chevrolet Nova-style car.
But a name was never put to the sketch.Then, last month, California-based Fitzpatrick was sent the DNA profile. She compared it to others in genealogy databases and found the closest match was to the family of Robert Fuller. And she revealed that, since the DNA trace follows male descendants, there was a "high probability" that the man police are looking for is named Fuller.

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Dr. Colleen Fitzpatrick will be the speaker at the Pinellas Genealogy Society Seminar on February 11, 2012.

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