Man Charged With Rape 14 Years Later After Entering DNA Into Genealogy Database
A man has been arrested on suspicion of rape more than a decade after the crime was reported, after submitting his DNA to a genealogy website.
Jared Vaughn was charged with the 2007 rape of a university student in Tampa Bay, Florida, after police searching genealogy databases matched his DNA to evidence collected during the initial investigation of the case 14 years ago.
Detectives working out of Florida’s forensic genealogy unit identified the possible suspect in 2020 after trawling the databases of popular ancestry websites GEDMatch and FamilyTree in search of DNA that could be linked to cold cases.
Vaughn was later visited by police at his current home in Ohio and asked to give another DNA sample, which confirmed the 1-in-700 billion match, Insider reports.
‘It has taken 14 years for resolution in this case, but it’s something that was important to us and was important to the victim, to get some closure in this case,’ assistant Tampa police chief Ruben Delgado said during a news conference announcing Vaughn’s arrest earlier this month.
‘That was the whole idea about this [forensic genealogy] squad, to kind of take these cases that haven’t been unsolved, kind of reenergize them.’
According to a police affidavit seen by the Tampa Bay Times, the alleged victim was walking home intoxicated from the city’s annual Gasparilla Parade when Vaughn offered to help her to her dorm. After allegedly raping her, he fled the scene.
Police were able to collect DNA evidence, but no matches were found at the time and no arrests were made, despite Vaughn having already been in the police department’s records following an arrest two years earlier for driving under the influence.
Florida’s forensic genealogy department was the first of its kind in the country when it was established in 2018, Insider reports. Other states including California and Utah have since set up similar offices aiming to use recent developments in DNA analysis to solve cold cases.
Public genealogy databases have been growing increasingly popular over the past few years as a way for people to delve into their ancestry or attempt to find family matches. Customers using these websites to submit can opt in to allowing law enforcement to access their DNA samples.
Mark Brutnell, the special agent in charge of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s lab, said the discovery was the result of DNA analysis combined with ‘old-fashioned police work’, and urged people using genealogy websites to opt-in to allowing police to access their DNA.
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