FDLE Genetic Genealogy Investigations program solves cold cases in first year

ORLANDO, Fla. – FDLE’s Genetic Genealogy Investigations program is one year old this month.  During that time, four suspects have been identified using the power of genetic genealogy, solving cases that are more than a decade old.

“One year ago, FDLE created its genetic genealogy investigations program to help law enforcement agencies solve cold case homicides and sexual assaults,” said FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen. “Today, Florida is a national leader in using genetic genealogy as an investigative tool.”

“Florida is unique to have a genetic genealogy team at the state level,” said FDLE Chief of Forensic Services Lori Napolitano. “Our team continues to move forward on additional cases statewide, so I know you’ll be hearing more success stories from us.”

“With Lori Napolitano at the helm, FDLE has established one of the most effective investigative genetic genealogy units in the country,” said Parabon NanoLabs CEO Steve Armentrout. “FDLE leadership deserves recognition for providing these new investigative capabilities to law enforcement agencies throughout Florida.  Parabon is proud to collaborate with Lori and her team on these investigations.  Through our combined efforts and the dedicated investigators we serve, we are bringing justice to cases that may otherwise have never been solved.”

“I am proud that the state where GEDmatch was founded and is located is a state that is a leader in proper utilization of this revolutionary technology for law enforcement,” said GEDmatch Co-founder Curtis Rogers.  “Not only has FDLE used advanced genetic techniques to catch vicious criminals, they are also in the forefront of implementing standards to protect against its improper use.”

“The sheriffs of Florida applaud the work being done on genetic genealogy to help us solve serious crimes, such as murder and rape,” said Florida Sheriffs Association President and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. “The public plays an important role in building this database. Together, we will have breakthrough tools to help us catch criminals and bring them to justice.”

“This is an incredible investigative tool that is helping law enforcement take dangerous criminals off our streets,” said Florida Police Chiefs Association President and Temple Terrace Police Chief Kenneth Albano.  “Using genetic genealogy will stop these cold case killers from continuing to prey on our communities.”

Background and how you can help

Genetic genealogy provides leads to investigators based on DNA matches to relatives found in public genealogy databases. Florida’s team includes experts in genetic genealogy, analytical research, forensics and investigations who work with local agencies.  FDLE partners with Parabon Nanolabs, who conducts the testing and often the initial genetic genealogy work. 

Our success depends on information found in public genealogy databases. If you have had your DNA analyzed, please consider uploading it to GEDmatch and “opt-in” for law enforcement matching.  Today, there are more than 140,000 people who have chosen to “opt-in” for law enforcement matching.  This service is free.

The use of genetic genealogy helps make Florida safer by providing leads that result in the arrest of suspects in cold case homicides and sexual assaults and taking them out of our Florida neighborhoods and communities.  This can also bring long-awaited answers and much-needed relief to victims and their families, as can be seen in this video posted on the GEDmatch website:

For Further Information Contact:
Gretl Plessinger, Jessica Cary or Jeremy Burns
FDLE Office of Public Information
(850) 410-7001

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Priorities

FDLE is composed of five areas: Executive Direction and Business Support, Criminal Investigations and Forensic Science, Criminal Justice Information, Criminal Justice Professionalism and Florida Capitol Police. FDLE’s duties, responsibilities and procedures are mandated through Chapter 943, FS, and Chapter 11, FAC. To learn more about these areas, read our Statement of Agency Organization and Operation or visit our Open Government page.