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Another Cold Case Solved through Genealogy

In 1974, little Siobhan McGuinness, just five-years-old, went missing near an off-ramp to Interstate 90 in Missoula Montana.  A few days later, her body, raped and stabbed to death was found.

The anguish for the family of this beautiful child went on for decades.

Detectives, with the assistance of the FBI, recently used Forensic Genealogy to solve her murder.  Arkansas resident Richard William Davis, who died before he could be brought to justice, was identified as her killer.  Detectives determined that at the time he drove a car that matched the description witnesses had provided. It’s believed he was just passing through Missoula when he spotted Siobhan.

Though they will never see justice done in this case, Siobhan’s surviving family at least now know what happened.

You can read accounts of the case here.

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Why doesn’t the FBI record interviews?

Why didn’t the FBI record the Flynn interview?

(Click above for story).

Regardless of your feelings about this case, it exposes what has long been a problem I have with how the FBI investigates. They cannot, per policy, record interviews. There is no excuse for that in the twenty-first century.
During interviews agents are trying desperately to write down what is being said. To do that, you can’t effectively interact with the person you’re interviewing. You can’t look for “tells” or little reactions that may let you know you’re being lied to. Also, something that seems unimportant at the time of the interview, (and not noted by the agent) can become very important later as new facts are uncovered.
This came into the play in the Pulse nightclub mass-shooting in Florida when they interviewed the suspect’s wife.  She was clearly was involved in the planning and execution of the incident. The agents testified to what she said, but the jury acquitted because they had no recording.
The FBI needs to remove this counter-productive policy.

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Crime Stories with Nancy Grace

I took part in this episode about a man who murdered his wife, wrapped her in plastic and duct tape, buried her in the crawlspace of his house and then went to work. When he got home, he reported her missing. He planned to put up fliers for her using the same duct tape he wrapped her in . Also available on Fox Nation.

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In Cold Blood Part 2

Many people know of the Clutter family murders in Holcomb, Kansas in 1959 made famous by Truman Capote in his book about the case “In Cold Blood”.  Most people have never heard of the Walker family. The entire family was murdered, in Florida a short time after the Clutter murders.    24-year-old Christine Walker was raped and murdered and the rest of the family shot to death, much the same fate the Clutters suffered.

The killers of the Clutters, Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, were arrested, convicted and hanged for the crime in 1965.

After killing the Clutters, Smith and Hickock fled to Florida and were in the area the Walkers lived when the murder occurred.

Florida detectives looked into the possibility that the pair had killed the Walkers, but dropped them as suspects after they passed polygraphs.

In 1959, polygraphs were notoriously unreliable.  They are better today, but an experienced detective would never eliminate someone as a suspect because of a polygraph alone.  Many killers passed polygraphs only to later be convicted, such as Gary Ridgway, (The Green River Killer), Ted Bundy, and Jeffrey Dahmer to name a few.

The bodies of Smith and Hickock were exhumed in 2013 to collect DNA.  The DNA that was collected was too degraded to match with DNA from the scene.

If the DNA collected from their bodies was retained, it should be tested again. A lot has happened since 2013 to develope a profile from degraded samples.

If not that, detectives should use forensic genealogy link the DNA from the scene to relatives of the two.  If they didn’t do it, (which I believe is unlikely) it may lead to the real killer.

An article about this case was posted on the website The Line up.

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