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I-Team: Specialized Technology Could Help Solve Murder Of Vanessa Marcotte

BOSTON (CBS) - The highly-specialized technology that police used to create a profile of Vanessa Marcotte's killer, could mean the difference between solving a crime and a cold case.

Marcotte was 27 when she was killed while jogging near her parents' Princeton home on August 8, 2016.

The technology has the potential to show police the killer's face and give them desperately needed clues.

Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early said Thursday that the person of interest is described as a Hispanic or Latino man with an athletic build, light or medium skin, and shaved or very short hair.

Scientists at the Parabon NanoLab are able to predict what the suspect looks like by using a small amount of DNA taken from the crime scene.

Dr. Ellen McRae Greytak, the director of the Virginia lab, explained how the technology works.

Greytak said, "We focus on things that don't change with the environment, so we do pigmentation which is eye, hair, and skin color, as well as freckling."

Princeton Marcotte Search
Police head into the woods on August 11 to search the area where Vanessa Marcotte was found dead. (WBZ-TV)

She says the lab also focuses on the face and person's ancestry.

When investigators run out of options, Greytak says they contact her lab, where a majority of these cases become "cold cases."

"And what we do is we tell them of those 400 people in the area, you can eliminate 90-95 percent because they don't match this profile," Greytak said. "And now you can focus in a manageable number of people."

From there, the investigators have more information to work with and become more hopeful of solving the case.

The technology is being used in a Springfield cold case, where investigators say it has helped invigorate interest.

It is not yet possible to predict height and weight using the technology.

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