Friday, 14 September 2018

Barbara Rae-Venter - Speaker Profile

Title of your presentation: Cold Case Solved: The Use of Autosomal DNA in Identifying Offenders and Victims of Violent Crime.

Brief biographical details
Ph.D. Biology University of California at San Diego, San Diego, California
J.D. University of Texas Law School, Austin, Texas.
Member: ISOGG, Monterey County Genealogy Society (MoCoGenSo)

Day Job: Retired intellectual property attorney; specialized in patenting biotechnology inventions.

Night Job: I am a Search Angel with and help teach the online autosomal DNA classes that we offer to teach adoptees how to use their autosomal DNA to find birth relatives. I also assist law enforcement with identification of unknown crime victims as well as violent offenders using autosomal DNA and work with adoptees and others to identify immediate birth family members.

How I got into genealogy: My mother was born in Newcastle Upon Tyne in England but at the age of 7, she and her family emigrated to New Zealand. Her father was born in Inverness, and my mother was very proud of her Scottish ancestry. Starting in about the late 90’s, with her help, I began researching my mother’s family history. In November 2006, my parents were in a car accident in New Zealand in which my mother was killed. I stayed in my parent’s home during my father’s lengthy hospitalization and I discovered my paternal grandmother’s birth certificate in my father’s desk. To my surprise, my grandmother had been born in New Zealand. I had thought that all of my grandparents were off the boat from Scotland. Clearly there was a lot to be learned about my family and so it began—my addiction to genealogy. Research on my paternal grandmother’s family, revealed not only that her father had been born in Waipu, New Zealand in 1862 but that her mother’s family had arrived in New Zealand in 1839. And my paternal grandfather’s family I discovered had arrived in New Zealand 1851.

Involvement with genetic genealogy: I began doing DNA testing on myself and family members when consumer DNA testing first became available and have personally tested at just about every one of the consumer testing companies. And whenever I travel, I take along some DNA kits. Due to a scarcity of official records, traditional research, especially on my paternal grandmother’s paternal line, is difficult. My grandmother’s family was caught up in the Scottish clearances. They made their way from Sutherlandshire, Scotland first to Pictou and then St Ann’s in Nova Scotia and then three decades later to Waipu, New Zealand where they founded a Gaelic speaking community. Details of this epic voyage: To facilitate research on this branch of my family, I have set up the Normanites Project on FamilyTreeDNA; followers of the Rev Norman McLeod were often referred to as Normanites. Matches with adoptees led me to take a class with DNAAdoption in 2012 to learn how to solve unknown parentage cases. I have now taken that knowledge and applied it to solving unknown parentage cases of a different ilk, those involving identification of violent crime offenders and victims of crime whose identity is unknown.

What I will be talking about: I will explore the use of autosomal DNA testing in solving cases of “unknown parentage”, from adoptees, to the unknown victims of violent crime, to violent offenders. I will also discuss some of the issues raised by the use of public databases such as GEDmatch in solving these cases.

Information about me and the work that I do:


video: adoptee reunion ...

Adam Keim’s story (adoptee) ...

Forensic Magazine Article on solving cold case ...

Boston Globe Article on the aftermath of identifying Lisa’s mother ...

Boston Globe article on identification of Lisa’s abductor ...

New York Times Article on identifying The Golden State Killer ...

1 comment:

  1. How fascinating. The knowledge and experience of this lady is clearly invaluable.
    Sadly for most of us,(adoptees) me included, rely on others to find us, and they in turn are waiting for us to find them.

    I for one find the whole systemic DNA deciphering and identifying close family connections bewildering, therefore it is unlikely that most of us will ever know anyone other than our Children who are blood relatives.