New DNA technology can help solve cold cases

1 year 3 months 2 weeks ago Friday, November 04 2022 Nov 4, 2022 November 04, 2022 11:37 AM November 04, 2022 in News - Local

A human genetics professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is shedding light on the years-long delay in cracking a Colorado cold case that has ties to the Valley. 

In 1988, human remains were found on a farm in Colorado. In 2004, DNA was submitted to the McAllen Police Department regarding the disappearance of McAllen woman Nora Elia Castillo. Last month, the remains found in Colorado were positively identified as Castillo after DNA testing. 

John Blangero, a human genetics professor at UTRGV, says the issue in Castillo's case wasn't the DNA match, but rather the database that stored genetic information. 

RELATED: Remains of McAllen woman found in Colorado identified 35 years after disappearance  

"This case all came down to having the right data in a database that could be queried," Blangero said. "Other than that, it was very simple to identify that these two people share 50 percent of their genetic material. That's one of the easiest possible matches that you can make, but if they're not in the same database or in a database, then it's not possible."

Blangero says that technology has advanced to the point where in the near future, cold cases will be nonexistent. 

With there being so many types of DNA tests that a person can do at home, genetic markers make it easier for police to identify cold-case victims or criminals.

The Baca County Sheriff's Office in Colorado is still investigating Castillo's case as a homicide. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Baca County Sheriff's Office t 719-523-4511 or the McAllen Police Department at 956-681-2221. 

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