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Genetic Testing Could Provide Leads For Cold Cases

Detective Superintendent Ross McKay:

NZ Police and the institute of Environmental Science Research (ESR) have
begun a trial in the use of a genetic investigative tool on two serious crime
cold cases, Operations Dallington and Sturbridge.

The family of Mellory Manning, who was murdered in Christchurch in December
2008 (Operation Dallington) and Alicia O’Reilly, who was murdered aged 6
years, in Auckland in August 1980 (Operation Sturbridge) have been advised of
these developments.

We acknowledge this is a difficult time for these families and hope we can
provide them with the information they need to seek closure on these

Forensic Investigative Genetic Genealogy (FIGG) combines DNA testing with
genealogical research to analyse genetic relationships between individuals
who share very small amounts of inherited DNA with the crime scene DNA sample
using genealogy databases and publicly available records and is being used
internationally to help solve cold cases and identify human remains.

Using techniques like FIGG, has the potential to provide investigative leads
and potentially resolve some of the most serious unsolved crimes.

This is a complex investigative tool and only cases where suitable DNA
evidence has been captured during the criminal investigation would be
considered, after all other investigative avenues have been considered and

To meet New Zealand conditions our forensic service provider, ESR, reassures
that all physical sample testing is completed in New Zealand and extractions
of the digital genetic code will be provided to a third-party international
service provider with no actual DNA material needing to be sent outside of
New Zealand.

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Results from genealogy websites, where submitters provide law enforcement
access to their records, are used as the basis of genealogy searching of
publicly available records such as genealogy database, church records and

Criteria has been developed and assessed to determine the trials success. A
staged approach to measuring success has been developed and an evaluation of
the trial will be conducted at the conclusion of the use of FIGG for these
two cold cases.

Using techniques like this, provides Police with the opportunity to resolve
these cases and make our communities safer.

© Scoop Media

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