Could new DNA tech crack the JonBenet Ramsey case?

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BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — This weekend will mark the 25th anniversary of JonBenet Ramsey’s death. The 6-year-old was found dead in the basement of her family’s Boulder home on Dec. 26, 1996, and the case remains unsolved.

In a news release, the Boulder Police Department said “it is actively reviewing genetic DNA testing processes to see if those can be applied to this case moving forward.”

“What it indicates to me is they are going to go talk to somebody that does investigative genetic genealogy,” said Mitch Morrissey, the former Denver district attorney and current chief of operations at United Data Connect.

That company does DNA sequencing and has helped solve a number of cold cases using familial DNA technology. If DNA from a crime scene doesn’t match any in the federal database, investigators in some states can use software to search for a close relative like a father, brother or son.

The company also does investigative genetic genealogy, looking for relatives in some genealogy databases.

“There’s only two commercial databases that cooperate with the police, and we utilize them to solve cold cases, but we could solve current cases as well,” Morrissey said. 

He believes Boulder investigators have likely used the other options provided by the Colorado Bureau of Investigations. 

As the Denver DA, Morrissey assisted the Boulder County DA’s office for a time in the Ramsey case, although he does not talk about that specifically.

“There is a DNA profile running in the DNA database and has been for 20 years, so there’s never been a match,” he said.

There are some considerations moving forward. Morrissey says some advanced techniques don’t work well when there is a DNA mixture from two people, and it’s important to preserve the DNA sample.

“It is a limited resource, so you can’t go around just trying every new technique because you are going to run out of DNA,” Morrissey said.

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