The Atlantic

An Abandoned Baby’s DNA Condemns His Mother

Sioux Falls police bring murder charges, based on a technique first used to catch a serial killer, in a 38-year-old case.
Source: Steven Senne / AP

Thirty-eight years ago, an infant boy—hours old, tears frozen on his face—was found dead in a ditch in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Last week, police arrested his mother and charged her with murder, after investigators uploaded the baby’s DNA to a genealogy website and matched her relatives.

The same strategy led police to the in April 2018, and since then law enforcement working with genealogists have made dozens of arrests for rape and murder around the country. Once a headline-grabbing technique, forensic genealogy has become quietly normalized. Now this powerful tool, first used to catch a serial killer, is being applied to abandoned-baby cases that genealogists once hesitated to take on.

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