Genetic genealogy has led to a third arrest in a cold case, Buzzfeed News reports. Law enforcement officials in Washington State have arrested Gary Hartman in the 1986 rape and murder of 12-year-old Michella Welch, it adds.
According to Inside Edition, Michella and her sisters had been playing in a local park when she returned home to make sandwiches, and law enforcement officials suspect she returned to the park while her sisters used a restroom at a local business, as the food and her bike were found there. Michella's body was later discovered nearby.
Investigators hired a genetic genealogist from Parabon NanoLabs to piece together the alleged killer's family tree using DNA evidence collected at the scene, public genealogy databases, census data, and more to home in on Hartman and his brother as potential suspects, Buzzfeed News adds. Police then obtained a napkin Hartman used at a diner to confirm the match, it says. USA Today adds that Hartman was arrested during a traffic stop.
"I never believed this day would happen," Michella Welch's mother, Barbara, tells USA Today.
A similar approach was used in the Golden State Killer case as well as in another murder case from Washington State.