Advancements with DNA testing play pivotal role in efforts to solve cold cases

Wichita police say the genealogical DNA led to an arrest in a near-16-year-old rape case.
Published: May. 4, 2023 at 12:01 AM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A newer way to use DNA helped the Wichita Police Department make an arrest this week in connection with a rape case from nearly 16 years ago. Until recently, the man police arrested hadn’t been linked to the case.

Police are using genealogical DNA to solve crimes like the recently-forwarded case from 2007 in Wichita.

When there’s a crime committed, DNA is submitted to the FBI’s database. If there’s not a match, it used to be that investigators essentially ran out of luck. Now, what investigators can do is use the DNA that’s in the database and compare it to DNA submitted through public databases and connect the dots to suspects through a family tree.

On Wednesday, 12 News spoke with Wichita police about the advancements with using DNA to help solve crimes and the benefits they’re seeing.

“I think Wichita got its first piece of DNA extracted in 1989, but you’d need a whole drop of blood. Now it’s touch DNA, Wichita Police Captain Christian Cory said.

Cory said the WPD recently started utilizing the technology.

“There’s other databases out there that are public, you have to opt in. It’s always a personal choice to do that,” he said. “Maybe a distant family relative, we’d go out and talk to them and tell them what we’re doing and what we’re looking at, fill them in with what we can. It’s kind of a process of elimination until we get down to a point where we’ve developed a lead.”

Captain Cory said the new way of finding suspects is already developing into the potential solving of other cases.

“I got a call from a retired police officer who saw the [story about the 2007 rape arrest] [Tuesday] night and who called up and said, ‘hey, these are some cases that I don’t know whatever happened to them, but I remember working with sex crimes at the time on this side of town and, can you guys check them out to see if they’re potential candidates?’” Cory said. “We’ve got one of our lieutenants, he’s starting to do research to locate these case files and whatnot.”

Concerning privacy, the WPD said it doesn’t pull from DNA websites like or 23andMe, but the data pulled is from public databases where people have opted in to let law enforcement agencies utilize their DNA.