Marysville cold case solved with help from Attorney General's forensic genetic genealogy program - Dailyfly

Marysville cold case solved with help from Attorney General’s forensic genetic genealogy program – Dailyfly

Seattle– Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced today that his office’s forensic genetic genealogy program has now helped solve a 24-year-old cold case from Marysville.

In 1988, 19-year-old Jennifer Brinkman was found dead in the family home in Marysville. Although the murder weapon – an ax – was left behind, the case went cold. On Monday, the Marysville Police Department announced the arrest of a 52-year-old man from Renton. The man faces first degree murder charges in the Brinkman case.

“I will continue to partner with law enforcement to solve cold cases, bring victims to justice and hold criminals accountable,” Ferguson said.

“After the initial crime, no matter how quickly the police solved it, many of the victims’ families experience frustration and pain,” said Marysville Police Department Chief Erik Scairpon. “You can imagine how many decades without answers would seek to deepen those feelings. The same is true for our investigators. When I became Marysville Police Chief in September 2020, I found a team that had not let Ms. Brinkman’s memory, or her case, waver. Together, we rest easier today knowing that we have fulfilled our duty to our community, to Jennifer Brinkman, her family and all who knew her.

The Attorney General’s program provided $1,241.55 for genetic genealogy testing in this case. The city of Marysville also provided funding for testing.

Ferguson’s forensic genetic genealogy program has contributed to 31 cold case investigations to date. So far, three other cases have been solved with the help of this program, including:

  • A 2003 violent rape of a 17-year-old in McCleary, WA;
  • 2003 and 2004 violent sexual assaults by home invasion in Pullman, WA; and
  • A 1995 murder in Kitsap County.

The program is part of the Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI).

The Attorney General’s Office has dedicated $220,000 to help local law enforcement agencies investigate cold criminal cases through forensic genetic genealogy testing. These resources are reserved for unsolved cold cases of sexually motivated criminal crimes. Additionally, to be eligible, cases must have no active leads and no Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) matches.

To date, the Attorney General’s office has provided approximately $127,000 to local law enforcement agencies for testing. Ferguson’s office has about $96,000 remaining to help agencies with additional cold cases.

Forensic Genetic Genealogy: A Powerful Tool to Solve Cold Cases

In recent years, law enforcement and prosecutors have successfully solved cold cases using forensic genetic genealogy. This involves a genealogist collecting DNA evidence, uploading it to a public DNA database that allows access to their data, and then using that information to build a family tree to identify potential suspects who may not have -be themselves not have an available DNA profile.

DNA samples in public databases contain more genetic information than those submitted to CODIS and companies can conduct genealogical research to determine potential family connections with DNA samples – for example, from a third cousin to a brother. Genealogists or law enforcement agents do not have access to specific genetic data, only the results of matches within the database.

Only a few companies that offer DNA testing provide access to their internal databases for law enforcement requests. Companies that provide their databases to law enforcement specifically note that they will provide the information to law enforcement for ongoing investigations and allow customers to opt out of having their information provided to law enforcement.

Attorney General Ferguson’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI)

Attorney General Ferguson has prioritized clearing the backlog of rape kits and improving the state’s response to sexual assaults. Through his SAKI, his office:

  • Inventory all unsubmitted kits that were housed in local law enforcement evidence rooms;
  • allocated over $2.25 million for testing to help clear the backlog;
  • Launched a website to keep the public informed and provide comprehensive information about Washington’s SAKI program, part of a statewide initiative to end the backlog of rape kits from Washington; and
  • Worked with local law enforcement to collect DNA samples from hundreds of registered sex offenders who failed to comply with a legal obligation to provide their DNA.

Ferguson’s office also convenes two task forces intended to improve the state’s response to sexual assault — the Sexual Assault Forensic Review (SAFE) Advisory Group and the Coordinated Community Response Task Force sexual assaults.

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