Vermont State Police investigators used advanced DNA sequencing techniques to identify a sample found as part of their investigation into the 2004 disappearance of a 17-year-old girl in the town of Montgomery, police said Friday.
But investigators say identifying the source of the DNA found near the abandoned car of Brianna Maitland does not mean they have identified a suspect in her disappearance.
"We are continuing our active efforts to investigate every lead associated with this case, and we constantly look for new technological advances to aid in our investigation," lead investigator Detective Sgt. Angela Baker said in a statement. "The use of genetic genealogy to identify the DNA found 18 years ago is just one example of how detectives continue to track down every potential lead in this case."
Brianna was last seen on the evening of March 19, 2004, when she left work at the Black Lantern Inn in Montgomery. She was headed to a friend's house where she was living, but she never arrived.
The next day, her 1985 Oldsmobile was located backed into an abandoned building about a mile from the restaurant. The now-identified DNA sample was later found near the car.
Police have said there is no evidence Brianna left the area willingly and they believe she was a victim of foul play.
The DNA collected from near Brianna's car was added to the FBI's DNA database and compared to samples from 11 people of interest in the case, but no match was found.
After months of investigation, police were able to "locate, interview, and obtain DNA samples from possible donors."
Those DNA samples were sent to the Vermont Forensic Laboratory, which confirmed that DNA from one of the individuals matched the DNA found on the ground near Brianna's vehicle.
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