(CBS) - Genealogy records may help Seattle-area sheriff's deputies find a suspect in a 20-year-old murder case after connecting DNA evidence from a crime-scene sample to a 17th-century Massachusetts family.
CNN reports that the DNA sample was recovered from the body of 16-year-old Sarah Yarborough, who was killed on her high school campus in Dec. 1991.
The King County Sheriff's Office sent the DNA profile to Colleen Fitzpatrick, a California-based forensic consultant, who compared the profile to others in genealogy databases and found a match to the family of Robert Fuller, who settled in Salem, Mass. in 1630 and had relatives that had come over before him on the Mayflower, reports CNN.
Though Robert Fuller likely has thousands of descendants after nearly 400 years, Fitzpatrick says the geography and physical characteristics may be able help detectives narrow their search, and since the DNA trace follows male descendants, it is highly probable that the name of the man they're looking for has the name "Fuller."
"The most important thing is having a last name," Fitzpatrick told CNN. "People get excited about having a Mayflower connection, but the most important thing is having a probable last name for this guy."
The DNA Fitzpatrick used came from one of many major collections of genetic profiles, she told CNN, where people give their DNA profiles to the database.
"It allows you to connect with relatives you can't trace through traditional documentation," she said.
In this case, it could possibly connect a suspect to a decades-old cold case.