Homicide Victim Identified by Genetic Genealogy
May 26, 2021
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Her Name Returned after 40 years as Jane Doe
Sebastopol, CA – May 25 – Almost forty years after the remains of a woman were recovered from a low water crossing off Hwy MM, north of Dixon, Missouri, the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) and the DNA Doe Project (DDP) can confirm the woman’s identity as Karen Kaye Knippers. Based on forensic evidence, her death is considered a homicide.
In April of 2018, after exhausting all leads, the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office contacted the DNA Doe Project hoping to resolve the woman’s identity using genetic genealogy. Due to the difficulty in extracting a viable DNA sample, sequencing did not begin until August of 2019. In October of 2019, sequencing was complete and DNA file was sent for bioinformatics. The DNA file was uploaded to GEDmatch on November 3, 2019. The DNA matches were low, so on
December 19, 2019, the DNA results were uploaded to Family Tree DNA which produced several DNA matches in the second cousin range. DDP’s team of volunteer genetic genealogists were able to identify Karen Kaye Knippers as a candidate for Pulaski County’s Jane Doe within a matter of hours.
Team Leader Cairenn Binder stated, “This case was solved the same day we received the FTDNA results. Karen Kaye Knippers went nearly forty years without a name. While restoring her name will not bring her back, we hope it provides a measure of comfort and peace to her family.”
The DNA Doe Project wishes to acknowledge the contributions of other groups and individuals who helped solve this case: the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office and PCSO Det. D.J. Renno who entrusted the case to DDP; the University of North Texas for providing DNA extract; DNA Solutions for extraction; HudsonAlpha Discovery for sequencing; Dr. Gregory Magoon, contracting through Full Genomes Corporation, for bioinformatics; GEDmatch and Family Tree DNA for providing their databases; DDP’s generous donors and our dedicated teams of volunteer genealogists who work tirelessly to bring victims home.
DDP also wishes to acknowledge the financial contribution made by PCSO and Det. Renno who raised funds which they donated to DDP “to pay it forward”. Their special efforts will contribute to the potential identification of another agency’s Doe.
The DNA Doe Project, Inc. is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to identify John and Jane Does and return them to their families. The genealogy research is pro bono, but relies on donations to fund lab costs when agencies cannot afford them. To date DDP has made over forty confirmed identifications. Discover more at https://dnadoeproject.org/ .
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