Solving old cases with DNA technology

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This Monday, June 25, 2018, file photo on the left shows Raymond Charles Rowe, of Lancaster, Pa. Rowe was charged and plead guilty this month to the 1992 rape and murder of 25-year-old Christy Mirack at her home. The crime had stymied investigators until genealogical research led them to Rowe, known professionally as DJ Freez. (Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office via AP, File) On the right, Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman announces charges during a news conference at the Lancaster County Courthouse in Lancaster, Pa., Monday, June 25, 2018. Christy Mirack, an elementary school teacher, was sexually assaulted, beaten and strangled in her home as she was getting ready for work. (AP Photo/Mark Scolforo)

What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, January 23, 2019:

Since the identification of DNA in the mid-twentieth century, scientists have made incredible advances developing uses for the genetic information goldmine. Medical diagnostics, genealogy research and crime investigations routinely concentrate on the information, and direction, that DNA provides.

Criminal investigators are now using DNA databases to help crack older, unsolved cases. In Pennsylvania, one such case captured the national spotlight.

In 1992, 25-year-old Christy Mirack was raped and murdered in her Lancaster County home. No one was ever apprehended or charged with the crime until last summer, when investigators looked to genetic genealogy to help break the case.

A local man, Raymond Charles Rowe, 50, was charged with the crime, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison without parole this month. The DNA evidence linking him to the crime is a combination of solid police investigative work and chance, when his family member submitted DNA to a genealogy database.

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss DNA forensics and the Mirack case are Craig Stedman, Lancaster County District Attorney, and CeCe Moore, Chief Genetic Genealogist with Parabon Nanolabs, the organization who assisted the Lancaster DA with identifying Christy Mirack’s murderer. Also joining the conversation is Dr. Mitchell Holland, Penn State Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and a fellow with American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

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Craig Stedman, Lancaster County District Attorney

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CeCe Moore and Dr. Mitchell Holland