Cold Cases Solved

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DNA testing identifies suspect in 1963 cold case of 16-year-old killed at Colorado Girl Scouts camp

Tuesday, April 28, 2020
Law enforcement say they know who sexually assaulted and killed 16-year-old Margaret “Peggy” Beck in her Girl Scouts tent in 1963, but they don’t know where the suspect is or if he’s even still alive.

Advances in DNA technology allowed Jefferson County investigators to crack the 56-year-old cold case and identify James Raymond Taylor as a suspect in Beck’s killing.

Investigators believe the case is the oldest to ever be solved using genealogical testing where DNA found at the scene is compared to more than a million samples in a public database. The process allows investigators to find people who might be related to a suspect and narrow their search.

That’s exactly how investigators pinpointed Taylor as a suspect. His family has cooperated, Investigator Elias Alberti said Thursday. But they hadn’t seen Taylor since the 1970s. Taylor, who would be 80 years old now, was last known to be in Las Vegas in 1976, Alberti said.

“We have spent several months searching for James Taylor, with no luck,” Alberti said. “We have no idea where he’s at.”

Investigators aren’t sure whether Taylor knew Beck, or how he came to the Girl Scouts camp.

Beck was a student at Denver’s North High School and lived with her parents and three sisters in Edgewater. She joined the Girl Scouts when she was 9 years old and was thrilled to be a counselor at the Flying G Ranch Girl Scouts Camp near Deckers in the summer of 1963, Alberti said.

Taylor also lived in Edgewater in the early 1960s and worked as a TV repairman. He was married at the time. It’s possible that Taylor knew of the Girl Scouts camp because he went in the area to test HAM radios that he built, Alberti said.

Nobody heard or saw anything the night Beck was killed in her tent, Alberti said. Beck’s tentmate was ill and in the infirmary that night, so Beck was sleeping alone. The tentmate discovered Beck’s body the following morning when Beck didn’t show up for breakfast.

An extensive investigation at the time did not reveal a suspect, Alberti said.

Law enforcement collected scrapings from under Beck’s fingernails and submitted them for DNA testing, according to previous Denver Post reporting. Investigators created a DNA profile from the evidence in 2007 and submitted it to a national database, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

A more comprehensive DNA profile was created in June 2019, and investigators were able to identify the suspect through genealogical research by partnering with Denver-based United Data Connect.

Colorado law enforcement have solved several other cold cases using similar tactics, including the 1981 killing of a teenage hitchhiker and the 1980 stabbing of a college student.

Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader read a statement Thursday from Beck’s three sisters, who are still living,

“Peggy was a beautiful young girl who loved life,” the statement read. “She was loving and protective of her family and we will cherish our memories of her forever.”

If anyone has information about Taylor, they are urged to call the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office tip line at (303) 271-5612 or Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at (720) 913-7867 and are asked to reference case 63-10335.
“Nothing would give us greater pleasure than to actually put handcuffs on James Taylor,” Shrader said.

Original article from the The Denver Post

1996 Cold Case Homicide Solved

Wednesday, January 15, 2020
On October 24th, 1996, at about 0800 hours, Aurora police officers and homicide detectives were dispatched to the alley in the 1200 block of Iola Street. They discovered the body of twenty-five-year-old Tangie Sims. Her body had been dumped at the location after she was violently assaulted and stabbed to death. The initial investigation revealed Sims was last seen walking to a semi-truck. In addition, it was determined the suspect had cut himself during the murder and had left drops of blood at the scene. Samples of the suspect’s blood were recovered.

Unfortunately, the case went cold and remained that way for a lengthy period of time. Current MCHU Detectives Steve Conner and Michael Prince continued to work this case for the family of the victim. They never quit following up on leads and revisiting the case file. They knew the best chance of solving this homicide would be through the recovered blood left by the suspect and the incredible advancements that had been made in DNA analysis.

In 2019 advancements in DNA, specifically genealogical research, lead to a break in the case. United Data Connect, Inc. through the excellent forensic work a genealogist produced a possible suspect by comparing the blood sample to known DNA from a relative. Detectives Conner and Prince immediately began following up on this information. The leads took them to North Dakota and Idaho where they located a member of the suspect’s immediate family. The family member was cooperative and provided a DNA sample to the detectives.

United Data Connect, Inc. was able to positively identify Wesley Backman DOB 04/12/1955 as the suspect in this horrible crime. Detectives learned that Backman had passed away in 2008. The detectives discovered Backman had been an over the road truck driver and had lived in many different locations throughout the United States to include Aurora, CO.

The excellent work done by the original investigators, the incredible determination of Detectives Conner and Prince, DNA Solutions, as well as the amazing work done by United Data Connect, Inc. allowed the family of Sims to finally obtain some solace and closure. The costs of this investigation were provided by Crime Stoppers which continues to provide invaluable assistance with criminal investigations. Detectives Conner and Prince continue to work with other police agencies across the country to determine if Backman was responsible for additional unsolved homicides.

Identified Barron County John Doe – Dallas, Wisconsin (1982)

January 8, 2020
DNA Doe Project Case Announcement: Barron County John Doe – Dallas, Wisconsin (1982)
Status: IDENTIFIED

The DNA Doe Project (DDP), with the Barron County, WI Sheriff’s Department (BCSD) announces the identification of a man found in a wooded area in Barron County, WI in September 1982 as Kraig Patrick King of Ramsey County, Minnesota.
Click here to see Barron County Sheriff's Dept. press release

Anyone who believes they have relevant information on this case should contact authorities directly:
Barron County Sheriff's Department
Mary Dexter
715-537-3106

We are grateful for all the hard work by our volunteer genealogists, and also want to express our appreciation to, Justin Loe at Full Genomes Corporation, Inc, Family Tree DNA, Dr. Gregory Magoon at Aerodyne Research,
HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, GEDmatch.com, DNA Solutions, Inc., and Barron County Sheriff's Department for entrusting us with this case.
We also thank family members for their assistance and cooperation. Our sincere sympathies go out to them for their loss.
Image Credit: Dr. Emily Craig / Photo: Kraig King, 1979 senior year picture
Links to More Information
https://dnadoeproject.org/case/barron-co-john-doe/
Click here for DNA Doe previous post
For more information on the DNA Doe Project and our other cases, visit our website: http://dnadoeproject.org/

Identified “Clark County John Doe”

January 2, 2020
DNA Doe Project Case Announcement: Clark County John Doe - Idaho (1979)
Status: SOLVED

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed the identification made by the DNA Doe Project. The former “Clark County John Doe” was Joseph Henry Loveless, Born 3 Dec 1870 in Payson, Utah Territory. He most likely died in 1916, making him about 46 years old at the time of his death. His remains were preserved in the Buffalo Cave for as long as 63 years, well surpassing the estimated post-mortem interval of six months to five years.
No photograph of Joseph Henry Loveless has been found. The image shown is a composite created from photographs of his immediate family members and the physical description on his wanted poster. Composite image by Anthony Lukas Redgrave.

Watch the press conference here: https://www.facebook.com/DNADoeProject/videos/2622449814529186/
Slides from press conference: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1MrF2AXjx4k0J5f3XC3DL1IlFzHylHMPr/view?usp=sharing

If you have any further information on this case, please contact the Clark County Sheriff’s Office at:
Sheriff Bart May
Clark County Sheriff’s Office
224 W Main
Dubois, Idaho 83423
208-374-5403
bmay@co.clark.id.us

We are grateful for the hard work put forth by our volunteer genealogists, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, Dr. Kate Reedy, Dr, Samantha Blatt, Dr. Amy Michael, Department of Anthropology Idaho State University, Othram Inc., Dr. Gregory Magoon of Aerodyne Reasearch, Justin Loe at Full Genomes Corporation, Inc, DNA Solutions, Inc., GEDmatch, Family Tree DNA, our generous donors including the Dyer Family Foundation, the DNA matches who uploaded and opted in to law enforcement matching, and the countless law enforcement officials, anthropologists, search teams, and students who have invested time and effort into closing this incredible case.

Links to More Information:
http://dnadoeproject.org/case/clark-county-john-doe/
DNA Doe previous posts:
https://www.facebook.com/DNADoeProject/posts/2308087702783335
https://www.facebook.com/DNADoeProject/posts/2494923984099705

For more information on the DNA Doe Project and our other cases, visit our website: http://dnadoeproject.org/
If you would like to learn how you can help solve cold cases by uploading your raw DNA and opting in to law enforcement matching, please visit: Help.forensicgenealogytraining.org

Skull in Tulalip woods identified as man missing since 2013

December 7, 2019
Caleb Hutton
Six years after Tyler Sullivan went missing, his family knows he’s not alive. The rest is a mystery.
EVERETT — At the time Tyler Sullivan went missing, his girlfriend was going on eight months pregnant.
The baby came 1½ weeks early.
Sullivan never came home.
Continue Reading ....

Identified “Clark County John Doe”

November 12, 2019

The DNA Doe Project has made a tentative identification of Clark County John Doe. We are unable to release his name or details of his life until law enforcement is able to provide confirmation. We would like to thank Clark County ID Sheriff Bart May, Dr. Kate Reedy and Dr. Samantha Blatt of Department of Anthropology Idaho State University, Dr. Amy Michael of UNH Anthropology, Othram Inc., Full Genomes Corporation, Inc, Dr. Gregory Magoon at Aerodyne Research, DNA Solutions, GEDmatch, Family Tree DNA, the Dyer Family Foundation, generous donors, and our team of dedicated DDP volunteers.

Anyone with information on this case should contact:
Clark County Sheriff Bart May
208-374-5403

See our previous post for information on this case:
https://www.facebook.com/DNADoeProject/posts/2308087702783335

DNA Genealogy Crime Solvers

September 9, 2019
Caleb Hutton

Have you seen this incredible case that was recently solved after a fisherman found what appeared to be a piece of a human skull in a Washington river?

Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office announced in August that they identified Daniel Cleveland, 35, as "Big Bend John Doe." Cleveland was known to struggle with mental illness and was possibly suicidal, but his cause of death is still unknown.

Although authorities already believed the palm-sized piece of human skull found on the banks of a Washington river belonged to Cleveland, his identity was confirmed through a DNA profile developed through an Oklahoma lab (likely DNA Solutions, Inc. in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma).

Deb Stone, from Oregon, performed the genetic genealogical analysis through GEDmatch. During her research, available matches dropped from over one million to zero after GEDmatch changed to a new "opt-in" policy. This unfortunate event increased required research efforts and prolonged the discovery of Cleveland's identity.

Eventually, after narrowing the results, authorities asked his parents to complete DNA analysis to confirm.
Our condolences to the family and friends of Daniel Cleveland on their loss.
Read More Here:
https://www.heraldnet.com/news/palm-sized-piece-of-skull-identified-as-that-of-gold-bar-man/

Identified: Philadelphia Jane Doe

August 9, 2019

The DNA Doe Project has made a positive identification in the case of Philadelphia Jane Doe. We’re unable to share details at this time while the investigation is pending.
We thank DNA Solutions, Inc., Dr. Gregory Magoon for bioinformatics, Full Genomes Corporation, Inc, GEDmatch, FTDNA, and our team of dedicated DDP volunteers.
We extend our appreciation and condolences to the family for their cooperation and assistance during this painful time.

Anyone with information on this case should contact:
Philadelphia County Medical Examiner’s Office
Seth Ditizio, Medicolegal Death Investigator
215-685-7458
See our previous post for information on this case: https://www.facebook.com/DNADoeProject/posts/2230060803919359

Identified: Orange Socks

August 8, 2019

The DNA Doe Project is happy to share the news along with the Williamson County Sheriff's Office, Texas that Orange Socks Jane Doe has been identified as Debra Jackson. It was our honor to be a part of this search since April 2018. There have been many challenges. It was a difficult process to obtain sufficient DNA for usable data to upload to GEDmatch. We were further challenged when the two databases we rely on for genetic genealogical research were suddenly reduced in size by a change in their terms of service.
We were in the process of narrowing our genealogical search, when the recent publication of the new sketch by forensic artist, Natalie Murry, caught the attention of a family member. The relative was too distant for traditional CODIS testing to confirm the identification. However, DNA Doe Project was able to assist in the identification by testing the relative with a direct-to-consumer DNA test. That identification was supported by additional DNA matches we had already found on GEDmatch.

DNA Doe Project wishes to thank our team of DNA experts, our dedicated volunteer genealogists, our labs, and the Williamson County Sheriff's Office, Texas for entrusting us with this case.

Identified: Vicky Dana Jane Doe

June 4, 2019

With deep gratitude, the DNA Doe Project (DDP) announces the identification of “Vicky Dana Jane Doe” as Dana Nicole Lowrey from Minden, Louisiana Louisiana.

On 10 March 2007, a man collecting cans along Victory Road in Grand Prairie Township, Marion County, Ohio found the body of a young woman. In September 2016 Shawn Grate, a suspected Ohio serial killer, confessed to abducting and stabbing the young white female and tossing her body along the road. He said the young woman had been conducting door-to-door sales and claimed she allegedly cheated his mother. Grate became angry and killed her. He believed her name could have been Diane, Diana, or Dana. Dana Nicole Lowrey was 23 years old at the time of her death.

Since February 2019, the DNA Doe Project has worked closely with the Marion County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) and Major Christy Utley on this case. The lab received Dana's sample in March and our DDP team received her files on 13 May 2019.

Earlier today (4 June 2019) the MCSO hosted a press conference detailing the investigation, the partnership with DDP, and subsequent confirmation of Dana's identity. We thank the MCSO for their consummate professionalism and for entrusting us with this special case.

We extend our appreciation to DNA Solutions, Inc. for their lab and bioinformatics expertise. Thank you to Carl Koppelman for sharing his facial approximation.

Special thanks to our incredible team of dedicated DDP volunteers who have persevered on this and other cases, despite the challenges we have encountered since beginning Dana's case.

Above all, thank you to GEDmatch, and to those generous genetic genealogy participants who have completed DNA kits and are uploading and opting-in there. We see you! Without you, these cases would have little chance of reaching a successful conclusion. Please continue to educate and advocate for people to upload to FTDNA and gedmatch.com and opt-IN.

We extend our condolences to Dana’s family.

Identification announcement of Vicky Dana Jane Doe
https://www.facebook.com/NBC4Columbus/videos/454115975381805/

MCSO's News Page: http://www.co.marion.oh.us/sheriff
MCSO's Facebook Page: ( Marion Sheriff Ohio ) https://www.facebook.com/Marion.County.Sheriffs.Office/
DNA Doe Project: http://dnadoeproject.org/case/vicky-dana-doe/