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DNA-Based Wanted Sketch

Prosecutors in Massachusetts have used DNA phenotyping to put together a sketch of a suspect in a 1992 murder case, the Associated Press reports.

Lisa Ziegart, a teacher's aide, disappeared in April 1992 from her second job at a card and gift store, where she was working the night shift alone. Her body was found four days later in a wooded area a few miles away. She had been raped and stabbed, the AP says.

Now using genetic material they collected, investigators used an approach developed by Parabon NanoLabs that predicts a person's physical appearance and ancestry based on genetic factors. The New York Times recently had an academic group use a similar approach to make sketches of its staff and have others in the newsroom guess who it was in the picture, with varying degrees of success.

In this case, one suspect sketch depicts a 25-year-old white man with fair skin and possibly freckles with dark hair and eyes that are brown or hazel. The other sketch is of the same man, but older. The AP notes that the analysis indicates that the suspect is of both northern and southern European ancestry.

"For the first time in 24 years in this investigation, we have a face to this crime," Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni says.