Tag Archives: Steve Plesser

Is the window closing?

Just over a year ago, the world of investigations generally and criminal investigations more dramatically, was radically altered by the use of DNA testing combined with genealogical research to locate likely perpetrators of notorious crimes. The dam broke open with the arrest of Joseph DeAngelo, the alleged Golden State Killer.

Prior to this breakthrough, DNA samples from certain crimes were entered into the CODIS database. (Combined DNA Index System, maintained by FBI) One of the flaws of CODIS was that it’s data was limited to a relatively small portion of the population.

In the meantime, the growth of DNA testing for the purpose of genealogical searches was rapidly growing and producing a wealth of DNA data that was probably exclusiveof  CODIS contributors.  If a criminal avoided apprehension, his or her DNA might never go into the CODIS database with an identity attached to it.

What combining DNA testing with Genealogical research hopes to do  is take the DNA information found at a crime scene and compare it to the commercial data beyond realm of CODIS.  If close matches can be found, genealogy is used to find likely exact matches through relatives of the sample source.  Then law enforcement looks for and locates those likely matches and procures DNA samples for contemporary testing.  In the case of the Golden State Killer, law enforcement went into old evidence that had unidentified DNA in a quantity suitable for test, ran it through SNP tests, sent the data to the open source GEDMatch and eventually went into DeAngelo’s garbage to find what proved to be matching samples.

You need either a preliminary source for DNA testing, for example blood found on the victim at the scene or the wash/extract produced for the original testing.  The process of testing for DNA includes extracting  a purified sample in a water solution.  This is sometimes referred to as the “wash.”  Even if a previously untested source for testing doesn’t exist, the remaining wash may be usable for testing by newer methods.

Further hampering the possibility of an overlap between the CODIS data and commercial data is the fact that they use different testing methods.  What follows may be a gross oversimplification of the science, so I apologize to the likes of Blaine T. Bettinger for that error. Law Enforcement uses a STP method and the commercial world uses the SNP method.  To my knowledge, the test data for one cannot be converted to the other.  As a result, if the DNA sample that was in evidence was consumed in full and there is no remaining wash, you may be unable to take advantage of the the new options.

While this new approach has closed approximately 55 cases since 2018, including the recent case in which the first person convicted of committing a crime was freed using this technique the window for maximum use of this technique may be closing.  (The ISHI Report, What Does the Future Hold for Investigative Genealogy?, See the link below.)

The Golden State Killer case had a DNA sample or samples tested and created a false identity for the results. The results were then submitted to GEDMatch.  GEDMatch is an organization that is a sort of open platform for DNA results.  You can submit a swab for testing or you can submit your data from companies like 23andMe or Ancestry and  GEDMatch would lump everyone into one huge data base for doing genealogical research.  Suddenly everyone who joined GEDMatch had unknowingly given law enforcement their private data for evidence.

“On November 17, 2018, a 71 year-old woman was attacked while she was practicing the organ in a church meetinghouse. CeCe Moore, an investigative genealogist, was asked to assist with the case. Knowing that using the GEDMatch database to solve an assault case would violate their terms of service, she initially declined. With express permission from Curtis Rogers, founder of GEDMatch, investigators were allowed to use the database to identify the attacker.” (The ISHI Report, What Does the Future Hold for Investigative Genealogy?, See the link below.)

That same article goes on to explain why the window of opportunity on this type of investigation may have at least narrowed.  According to the ISHI article, the backlash to the the above referenced cases and others caused GEDMatch to require users to opt-in to having their DNA test results available for such investigations.  The result is that where GEDMatch once had 2,000,00 searchable profiles, it now has only 20,000.  That means the pool of searchable profiles has dried up significantly.

It will now be much more challenging to find matches that can help to solve cases.

The ISHI article I  cited was authored by Carol Bingham, Tara Luther and Promega and can be found at https://promega.foleon.com/theishireport/july-2019/what-does-the-future-hold-for-investigative-genealogy/.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Use of DNA Just Gets More Interesting

Learning more about the use of DNA as a forensic tool.
 
Today I learned that DNA samples can be extracted from fingerprints/fingermarks. It makes perfect sense that “touch DNA” would be deposited at a crime scene through finger prints.
 
The results seem to vary depending on the surface where the print/mark was left and the duration of time the finger was pressed against the surface. Just the same, even if a fingerprint/fingermark is smudged, DNA might be extracted to help place a person at a crime scene.
 
I am waiting to hear back from a major DNA research firm to learn if DNA can be extracted from the material used to lift prints from a crime scene.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

An arrest for sex with minors in Valley Springs, CA.

As it a appeared on the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Arrest Log for 9/28/18, George Edwin Mulligan of Dunn Road in Valley Springs for various counts of sexual activities with minors.

Today, 10/3/18, Mulligan was arraigned on the following 25 charges .

001 PC288A(C)(2)-F-Oral Copulation-By Force,Violence,Duress Etc 288A(C2) Felony 08/22/2010
002 PC289(A)(1)-F-Sexual Penetration 289(A1) Felony 08/22/2010
003 PC288(A)-F-Lewd Act With Child Under 14 Years 288(A) Felony 08/22/2010
004 PC288a(c )(2)(c )-F-Oral Copulation-By Force, Violence, Duress etc 288a( c2 c) Felony 10/02/2018
005 PC288a(c )(2)(c )-F-Oral Copulation-By Force, Violence, Duress etc 288a( c2 c) Felony 10/02/2018
006 PC288(C)(1)-F-Lewd Act With Child 14 Or 15/Deft 10 Years Older 288(C1) Felony 08/22/2011
007 PC288a(c )(2)(c )-F-Oral Copulation-By Force, Violence, Duress etc 288a( c2 c) Felony 10/02/2018
008 PC288a(c )(2)(c )-F-Oral Copulation-By Force, Violence, Duress etc 288a( c2 c) Felony 10/02/2018
009 PC288(C)(1)-F-Lewd Act With Child 14 Or 15/Deft 10 Years Older 288(C1) Felony 08/22/2012
010 PC261(A)(2)-F-Rape Of A Person by Force 261(A2) Felony 08/22/2013
011 PC288a(c )(2)(c )-F-Oral Copulation-By Force, Violence, Duress etc 288a( c2 c) Felony 10/02/2018
012 PC288a(c )(2)(c )-F-Oral Copulation-By Force, Violence, Duress etc 288a( c2 c) Felony 10/02/2018
013 PC261(A)(2)-F-Rape Of A Person by Force 261(A2) Felony 08/22/2014
014 PC288a(c )(2)(c )-F-Oral Copulation-By Force, Violence, Duress etc 288a( c2 c) Felony 10/02/2018
015 PC288a(c )(2)(c )-F-Oral Copulation-By Force, Violence, Duress etc 288a( c2 c) Felony 10/02/2018
016 PC261(A)(2)-F-Rape Of A Person by Force 261(A2) Felony 08/22/2015
017 PC288a(c )(2)(c )-F-Oral Copulation-By Force, Violence, Duress etc 288a( c2 c) Felony 10/02/2018
018 PC288a(c )(2)(c )-F-Oral Copulation-By Force, Violence, Duress etc 288a( c2 c) Felony 08/22/2015
019 PC261(A)(1)-F-Rape Of A Person Incapable Of Giving Consent Due To Mental Disorder Or Devp/Phys Disa 261(A1) Felony 08/22/2016
020 PC288a(c )(2)(c )-F-Oral Copulation-By Force, Violence, Duress etc 288a( c2 c) Felony 10/02/2018
021 PC288a(c )(2)(c )-F-Oral Copulation-By Force, Violence, Duress etc 288a( c2 c) Felony 08/22/2016
022 PC261(A)(2)-F-Rape Of A Person by Force 261(A2) Felony 08/22/2017
023 PC288a(c )(2)(c )-F-Oral Copulation-By Force, Violence, Duress etc 288a( c2 c) Felony 08/22/2017
024 PC288a(c )(2)(c )-F-Oral Copulation-By Force, Violence, Duress etc 288a( c2 c) Felony 08/22/2017
025 PC261(A)(2)-F-Rape Of A Person by Force 261(A2) Felony 08/01/2017

Courtesy of the Calaveras County Superior Court Case Index

This mug shot of Mulligan appeared in the Calaveras  Enterprise web site this afternoon. (http://www.calaverasenterprise.com/news/article_90513fea-c81e-11e8-b3a9-f3986298196d.html)

Mulligan Mugshot cropped

Having seen the arrest log last Friday we checked the address location and found that it is approximately 1.2 miles from the Rippon Road address where Leila Fowler was brutally murdered on 4/27/13.  A check of records available on  the Calaveras County Recorder’s web site shows that a deed in Mulligan’s name was filed on 12/27/12, just four months before Leila’s death.  It will be interesting to see if Mulligan’s DNA matches the still unidentified male DNA found on Leila by California D. O. J. Crime Scene Investigators.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Second Calaveras County Judge Finds Isiah Fowler Guilty.

June 27, 2018

Calaveras County Superior Court Judge Susan Harlan today said that she read all the transcripts and documents from the first trial as well as listened to audio files entered into evidence along with the testimony and exhibits from the new trial and then declared Isiah Fowler guilty of killing his younger sister.   Although she said that, she revealed that in fact she never looked at the evidence introduced earlier today while in chambers.

I will post more details about this case soon, but I feel that I do have to announce this very disheartening news first.  I know there are those who believe that Isiah is guilty.  In reading various on-line comments I realize that these people are ill- to uninformed.  That is to be expected.

I have worked with Isiah’s defense team for 5 years and believe wholeheartedly in his innocence.  There will be more to come on this subject.  For now I have to report what I consider to be bad news for the Fowler family and Isiah in particular.  I have read that justice has been done in Leila’s name.  Those people are wrong.  Justice will not be truly done until the unidentified male DNA found on one of Leila’s hair and located on her buttocks, beneath her underwear is matched to the person who deposited it on Leila.

This is not just any DNA.  The State crime lab was able to rule out the sample as coming from saliva because it was missing an enzyme found in that medium.  No, this DNA comes from blood or semen.  Whichever is the source, there is no explanation for it being there except that some male put it there and that male is not Isiah Fowler.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Retrial in the Leila Fowler Murder Case set for June 19, 2018.

Calaveras County Court Judge Susan Harlan set June 19, 2018 as the date to begin the retrial of Isiah Fowler whose 2015 conviction for the stabbing death of his 8 year old sister Leila was reversed by the California State Court of Appeals for the 3rd District.  The time for the State Attorney General to file for a petition of review passed after 40 days from the February 22, 2018 decision without a move to contest the appellate court’s decision at the State Supreme Court level.

http://www.calaverasenterprise.com/news/article_3444b338-59fd-11e8-89c8-2ffe6eb79456.html

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Fowler Murder Case is Returning to Calaveras County.

On February 22, 2018 a panel of judges for the 3rd California Appellate District issued and opinion that reversed the trial court conviction in the Leila Fowler murder case (see the earlier post for the details.)  At the point the State Attorney General’s office had 40 days to file a Petition for Review with the California State Supreme Court (commonly know as an appeal of the 3rd District’s decision.)  The deadline for electronically filing the Petition was 11:59 PM April 3rd.

That deadline passed last night without the AG’s office filing a Petition for review and now the case goes back to Calaveras County via a court order known as a Remittitur.

The Remittitur will be served on the Calaveras County Superior Court in 20 days, at which point the County District Attorney has to decided whether or not she wishes to retry the case.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Calaveras County DA statement regarding Fowler reversal.

Today the Calaveras County DA released the statement shown below on the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Face Book page.

There is a significant misstatement of the facts.  As you can research for yourself in the post I made on 2/22/18 that includes the entire Appellate Decision, the Court did not rely on CA Health and Welfare Code Section 625.6 for its decision.  It only references that section in footnote #10.  The court relied on various case law to find that the trial court relied, at least in part, on statements obtained when the rights of the defendant were violated by Calaveras County law enforcement and the F. B. I. in conjunction with the accused’s own parent.

Screen Shot 02-23-18 at 01.57 PM

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized