GOLDEN, Colo. — A 38-year-old cold case in Jefferson County has been solved thanks to genetic genealogy.
Two weeks ago, investigators were getting close to solving several cases that are several decades old.
On Monday, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said it has identified the suspect in the 1981 homicide of 18-year-old Jeannie Moore.
For the first time in Colorado, detectives have been able to identify a suspect in a cold case by using crime scene DNA and public genealogy websites to build family trees tracing back to the suspect.
“I just am very grateful that I have the opportunity to help families bring closure to cases that have been open for so many years,” said Joan Busse, a genealogist with United Data Connect.
“I truly feel blessed I am able to be in this position.”
United Data Connect has partnered with Metro Denver Crime Stoppers to solve old cases with the new method.
“The idea came to them, why don’t we spend the money to actually solve the case using forensic science, using DNA,” Busse said.
Busse said she put in 40 to 60 hours working backward through thousands of ancestors and matches to identify a suspect.
Jefferson County detectives were able to use those clues to make sure they had the right person.
“Every single person in the world can be a crime stopper,” Busse said. “All you have to do is get your DNA tested anywhere.”
Busse said DNA can be uploaded to a website through kits.
Experts say people are in control about their privacy when using commercial DNA kits to find ancestors. People have to opt in if they want law enforcement to be able to access information.
Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader, investigator Elias Alberti, United Data Connect owner Mitch Morrissey and Mike Mills with Denver Metro Crime Stoppers will hold a news conference on Tuesday morning to make the announcement in Moore’s case.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation said Moore left her home for work at a gas station at West 13th Avenue and Wadsworth Boulevard on Aug. 25, 1981.
On Aug. 30, 1981, Moore’s body was found by picnickers in Genesee Park south of Interstate 70.
An autopsy found she died by blows to the head.