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Genetic Genealogy Leads to Arrest in 1981 Cold Case

Genetic genealogy has been used to arrest Theresa Bentaas in the 1981 death of her son, the New York Times reports.

The newborn — who was called Andrew John Doe — was discovered in a ditch in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in the winter, where he likely died of exposure, according to the Times, which adds that he wasn't identified at the time.

But, it says that in 2009, Detective Michael Webb took over the case and got a court order for Doe to be exhumed to collect DNA for testing. This eventually led, with help from Parabon NanoLabs as well as GEDMatch.com, Ancestry.com, and findagrave.com, to piece together the infant's family tree and home in on Bentaas as the infant's mother, the Times says. It notes that DNA collected from trash from her home "could not be excluded" as belonging to the infant's mother.

In an affidavit, Bentaas said she was "young and stupid" at the time and had hid her pregnancy from friends and family.

She is being held on murder and manslaughter charges, according to the Times.

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