Hosted by Nancy Grace
This is a new TV series on local channels, so you will have to check the local listings HERE.
This a truly unique new type of true crime series that takes viewers along the investigations that once curtailed by the lack of technology or evidence at the time, have come to have new light shining upon them as new advances in the DNA technology field have made giant strides in the last few years.
The series focuses on crimes being solved by searching familial DNA matches and pursuing those matches in order to find their suspect and make an arrest. This is done by using the YSTR chromosomal part of the DNA makeup. Then this is used to determined familial matches. In turn this can be a very useful investigative tool for Detectives, similar in the way a polygraph is used to point them in the right direction in a case. Except, this is evidence. This familial match can be used in court. Polygraphs are generally not accepted in State courts as evidence. However, in federal courts, they have been accepted in certain cases.
This idea of familial DNA searching for suspects has a bit of controversy surrounding it, as some people think it is a violation of privacy. But, seriously, how much privacy do you really expect to have when you swab your mouth or spit in a tube and mail it off to complete strangers to test and process? You don’t know who these people are and as it turns out, these privately owned companies are not bound by the same laws as the police and courts so they CAN opt to use that DNA you send in in any fashion they see fit, as long as you sign your paperwork and they cover their butts with their lawyers behind them.
Just so happens the biggest and first case that most people know about this kind of DNA searching and matching is the case of The Golden State Killer who was recently apprehended after a thirteen-year terror spree and living under the radar for over thirty years. The case was at a standstill as so many murders and rapes end up and the suggestion was made that because they had the suspect’s DNA, why not upload it into one of those family tree DNA websites and see if they could find any matches. This eventually led to his capture and on April 24, 2018 Joseph D’Angelo was charged with the numerous horrific crimes he had committed over the years.
This sparked a new thought in forensics and a new avenue for searching for suspects was developed, studied, tested and adopted.
Part of this technology also involves phenotyping which is information inside DNA that can tell us general physical traits about a particular individual such as eye color, hair color, approximate height, facial shape and many other characteristics that then allow forensic artists to sketch out a composite for the investigators to start showing around and broadcasting.
This series is a phenomenal series. Not only do the professionals that participate have true faith in this process but many of them have gotten emotionally invested in the cases that brought them to this new technology.
The series walks the viewer through the case from start to finish, including in depth interviews with the very Detectives that worked the cases themselves. This is complete with reenactments and dramatizations to show the progression of the case and to give the victims and their families a tangible existence rather than just be names in a case file.
My only complaint was that during one of the reenactments, one of the Detectives is explaining that many times during an attack the victim will scratch and claw at the attacker and this will often leave skin cells and DNA under the victim’s fingernails. He explains that to preserve that evidence during transportation of the body to the Medical Examiner’s office they will bag the hands and secure the bags with rubber bands. This is very true. However, in the reenactment the show the techs using plastic bags around the victim’s hands. As far as I know, plastic seals in all kinds of things, including air, and can cause biological evidence to begin to deteriorate. I was under the impression in real life paper bags are used to let any gases, moisture, etc. escape as NOT to compromise the potential biological evidence on the victim’s hands.
Other than that, I thought this was a wonderful series and actually very informative. I am definitely going to be watching the rest of the 12-episode series. I think this is one of the most unique true crime shows I have seen in years because it deals with new science and how it is actively being used in our justice system today.