Should familial DNA searching be legal in all 50 states?

CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) logoYou know the drill: a murder is committed and investigators gather evidence from the crime scene–fingerprints, strands of hair, and, if they’re lucky, DNA. Once a DNA profile is obtained, police enter it into the national CODIS database, searching for a match. CODIS stands for Combined DNA Index System, a program supported and run by the FBI. One part of CODIS is the NDIS, or the National DNA Index System, which contains DNA profiles contributed by the federal, state, and local law enforcement. Whenever law enforcement enters a new DNA profile into CODIS, it is in hopes that the computer program will return a match. Sometimes that match comes in the form of another crime scene that has been entered into the system that maybe police did not think were linked. Sometimes that match comes in the form of a direct hit on an individual whose DNA has already been submitted into the system after a prior conviction. Sometimes there is no match at all and the case turns cold. In the rarest of occasions, however, there is another kind of hit–a familial match.
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Since everyone is talking about Robert Durst…

Since everyone is talking about Robert Durst, I thought I’d throw my two cents into the mix. I’ve been following the Durst case for years. I even wrote about his missing wife, Kathie, and the decades that followed in which his family and friends began to suspect that he had something to do with her 1982 disappearance. You can read about Kathie and Robert’s case, along with the cases of twenty-nine other missing women, in my book, Missing Wives, Missing Lives. When Robert’s longtime companion, Susan Berman, was shot execution style in her Los Angeles home in 2000, and then his Galveston, Texas neighbor turned up dismembered in 2001, the coincidences became too large to ignore. I think it’s clear to most people who have followed the case for decades that Mr. Durst has been a murderer walking free for years. If it wasn’t, the HBO documentary, “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst” has made it abundantly clear.
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Establishing a link between John Bittrolff and the Long Island Serial Killer

Photo of John BittrolffIt bothers me that police have been so quick to dismiss any connections between John Bittrolff, the man arrested earlier this week for two cold case murders in the 90s, and the Long Island Serial Killer. Maybe they are just taking their time to piece together a strong case against him. Or maybe they do have some sort of evidence that clearly proves he’s not the killer and they are keeping it from the public so as not to compromise the case. In my last post, I noted that Suffolk County DA Thomas Spota told the media this week, “There is no evidentiary or investigative link between these two murders and any of the Gilgo victims. The evidence recovered from Tangredi and McNamee, the manner in which their bodies were found and the crime scenes are unique to them and distinctly different from the Gilgo crime scenes.” This may be true, but there is a rather large connection that the police are failing to bring up, mainly that torsos from two of the LISK victims were recovered in the Manorville pine barrens, a mere three miles from where Bittrolff lived. UPDATE: Check out an interactive map I put together of the victims’ locations in relation to Bittrolff’s known residences here.
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John Bittrolff charged with Long Island murders in 90s… Is there a connection to the LISK?

This is a pretty incredible story. In 1993, thirty-one-year-old Rita Tangredi’s body was discovered in a Long Island wooded area. Three months later, the body of twenty-year-old Colleen McNamee was also found. Both had been known to work as prostitutes and both bodies were strangled, beaten, and discarded in a wooded area. This week, twenty years later, a forty-eight-year-old local from Manorville, New York named John Bittrolff has been charged in their murders and police are investigating his involvement with another 1993 murder in Suffolk County, that of Sandra Costilla.
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Partially dismembered remains found…Has the Long Island Killer struck again?

On Tuesday, July 8, a couple on Long Island made a gruesome discovery in some tall grass near a municipal parking lot as they were walking towards the ferry: the partially dismembered remains of a female. The area is located in Bay Shore, NY, near Maple and Main Streets, less than 30 miles away from the area in Gilgo State Park, where eight sets of remains were discovered between 2010 and 2011. Has the Long Island Serial Killer (also known as the Gilgo Beach Killer) struck again? Authorities aren’t releasing much information yet, only to say that the female has not yet been identified and they have released cadaver dogs into the area, as well as Gilgo Beach, apparently in an attempt to make sure other bodies have not been dumped in that area as well. Between 2010 and 2011, investigators discovered a total of ten individuals along Gilgo Beach, Oak Beach, and Jones Beach State Park. They announced in November of 2011 that one individual was responsible for all ten murders. Only five of the victims have been identified. Police believe the majority of the victims were strangled and dismembered.
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MISSING WIVES, MISSING LIVES is now available on Amazon!

Missing Wives, Missing LivesRelease day is finally here! Thank you to all my friends and fans for your incredible support.

My new book, Missing Wives, Missing Lives, was released today in paperback and eBook! Want it in Audiobook format? That will be available in a few weeks!  Click here to purchase now!

Everyone who pre-ordered was automatically entered to win 1 of 2 $100 Amazon gift cards! The first drawing took place on June 9–Congrats to JoAnn Brown! The next drawing will take place later today (June 16) and the winner will be announced on my Facebook page:

When a wife goes missing, her husband is often the prime suspect in her disappearance. But what happens when she is never found? These are the true stories of thirty missing women.

“A riveting read that paints a vivid picture of disappearing wives whose lives converge toward what the reader knows is a horrifying conclusion. Well researched and written.” —Crime Magazine

“A compendium of some of the most notorious cases where women have disappeared. Too many husbands are literally getting away with murder. We must remember that many of these women were moms as well. The subject of this book is fraught with emotions for the reader. Thousands of women and girls are missing and every day more and more simply vanish. We need more books like this for public awareness. Congratulations to the author on this her debut book. Highly recommended.” —Missing Justice Gender Advocacy


Cold Case: Where is Angela “Cherice” Gwinn Stephens?

Photo of Angela Cherice Gwinn Stephens


Twenty-three-year-old Angela “Cherice” Gwinn Stephens has been missing since October 1, 1993. Today, nearly twenty-one years after she was last seen, Raleigh County Commissioners in West Virginia signed a petition declaring her legally dead. Her husband, Norman E. Stephens II, claims that Cherice dropped him off at work that Friday, and never returned to pick him up at the end of his shift. Instead of reporting her missing, Norman waited twenty-seven days and then filed for divorce. Cherice’s family reported her missing eleven months after she was last seen. Norman reportedly told the police that his wife had called him from out of town, letting him know she was not coming back. He hired a lawyer and refused to take a lie detector test.
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Cold Case: Missing since 1977, Mary Stuart and her two young daughters have never been found

Where are they?

Photo of Mary Elizabeth Stuart Photo of Jessie Stuart Image of Fannie Stewart
Mary Elizabeth (Danckert) Stuart was born on April 25, 1945. She was married to Byron McCray Stuart, who reportedly was quick to anger and not afraid to resort to violence. Mary left her home in Honeydew, California around 10:00 in the morning on Saturday, December 10, 1977. She and her two young daughters, two-year-old Jessie Flo and one-year-old Fannie Fawn, left in the family’s red Opel station wagon to run some errands. They planned to visit a television repair shop in a neighboring town, the optometrist, and a grocery store. The trio never returned home that evening.
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