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Victim Identified with Genetic Genealogy

Genetic genealogy has helped law enforcement identify an unknown victim of the Green River Killer, the Associated Press reports

The victim, now known to be Wendy Stephens, was 14 years old when she ran away from her Denver home, the AP says. According to the AP, Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer, has pleaded guilty to killing 49 women and girls in the Seattle area, some of whom have not been identified. He, it adds, strangled and killed Stephens in 1983.

To tease out her identity, a team from the DNA Doe Project uploaded her data to a genealogy website and were able to identify distant relations on both her mother and her father's side of the family, the AP reports. It adds that they were then able to home in on Stephens' parents through public records showing them as where the two family trees connected and that they had filed a missing persons report in 1983.

According to the AP, the investigation only took a few weeks but could have been even faster, as one of Stephens' family members had uploaded DNA data to GEDmatch in hopes of finding her or any children she might have had. But it adds that when GEDmatch switched to an opt-in model for law enforcement searches, the family member didn't do so and the team wasn't able to see the match.