Saturday, June 07, 2003

USAT has a great article that answers the or profiling. Hint: Bet on science.


DNA test showing ancestry may have helped La. search

Authorities hunting the Louisiana serial killer started focusing on black men after a DNA test indicated the killer's race, the company that did the test said. It was apparently the first such use of a test in a criminal investigation.

A crime-scene DNA sample was found to have come from "an African-American individual of average skin tone for the African-American group," Tony Frudakis, chief scientific officer of DNAPrint Genomics of Sarasota, Fla., said Wednesday.

Derrick Todd Lee, who was arrested May 27 in the serial killings of five Louisiana women, is black. Police say a sample of his DNA was taken as part of an investigation of some seemingly unrelated cases, and was then linked to the serial killings.

A spokeswoman for the task force that investigated the serial killings confirmed Wednesday that its investigators worked with DNAPrint Genomics but declined to comment further.

Authorities had initially indicated for about seven months that they were looking for a white man, based on a psychological profile and witness accounts. But in March, police said the killer could be of any race.

Frudakis said his company's test result led investigators to pay more attention to leads involving blacks than to other leads, and "that is why the case was solved two months after we ran the test for them" in March.

Frudakis said the test determines how much of a person's ancestry comes from each of four groups: sub-Saharan African, East Asian, Indo-European and Native American. It indicated that the ancestry of whoever left the DNA sample from the serial killer investigation was 85% sub-Saharan African and 15% Native American, he said. From that mix, the company was able to estimate the individual's skin tone, he said.