Decades old cold case turns hot thanks to new technology

Cold cases are being solved by hot new technology. And police in one Virginia neighborhood are hoping it could help get a rapist off the street.

STERLING, Va. (WUSA9) -- Cold cases are now being solved by hot new technology. The Loudoun County Sheriff's office is hoping this breakthrough could help get a rapist off the street.

It was June 29, 1987, when a shocking crime gripped the 200 block of East Poplar Road in Sterling, Va. Police collected DNA, but it remained a cold case.

Fast forward almost three decades and now DNA can help do something once thought impossible, generate a picture of the attacker's face.

Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman says it's important this case is solved.

"When you're talking about a crime of violence like that, it was a rape, it was an abduction and it was a 9-year-old girl, and that's the kind of predator that we want behind bars."

 

That's why Chapman is using a service called Snapshot. It generates pictures of the suspect, then and now, and it is the brainchild of Reston-based Parabon NanoLabs.

The lab took the suspect's DNA and matched it against their own database of 10,000 known DNA samples. An algorithm spits out a blueprint of what the person could look like, complete with hair, eye and skin color along with other features.

Steve Armentrout of Parabon NanoLabs says since 2014, Snapshot has helped police in other jurisdictions solve crimes, "Is it a likeness of that person? Definitely. Is it a drivers license ID? No, it's not."

Chapman says they are now looking at potential suspects, "We have been able to show that composite to the victim in this case."

The Loudoun County Sheriff's office is asking that if you know the person in the composite, believed to be between 25 and 50-years-old, give them a call. 


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