DNA tool may help in Fairmount Park rapist cold case

Saturday, July 14, 2018
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DNA tool may help in Fairmount Park rapist cold case . Jeff Chirico reports during Action News at 10 p.m. on July 13, 2018.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- There is new hope Friday night in the search for Rebecca Park's killer, 15 years ago.

Police say the infamous Fairmount Park rapist attacked and strangled the medical student while she jogged alone on July 13, 2003.

The crime long baffling investigators, who now plan to use ancestry websites to hopefully put a name to these sketches.

Philadelphia Police Captain John Ryan said, "We're calling a lot of our colder cases that have good DNA profiles and we're going to take that approach to bring some closure."

It's the same strategy investigators in California used to catch the Golden State Killer earlier this year.

Sites like Ancestry and Geni allow individuals to connect with unknown relatives by matching their DNA against other publicly available profiles.

Investigators in Lancaster County arrested a suspect in the 25-year-old murder of a school teacher using the same methods.

Captain John Ryan says these sites have proven to be a valuable crime-solving tool.

They determined other people in the database that were related to the doer. By mapping out the family they were able to determine who the doer probably was.

The DNA found at Park's murder matched that found after two other attacks on female joggers in 2003.

Four years later, in 2007 the serial rapist struck again -this time in Pennypack Park.

Police had repeatedly entered the DNA profile into criminal databases with no luck.

Now, police hope a relative of the attacker may have entered their DNA into one of these ancestry sites.

And that they can identify the serial rapist and bring closure to the victims and their families.


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