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Almost three decades after Borrego Spring killing, genetic genealogy leads to suspect


Practically three a long time in the past, the killing of 72-year-old Claire “Kay” Holman shook the small desert city of Borrego Springs.

Holman, a widow and retired hairdresser, was discovered useless in her dwelling one night time in March 1994. She had been strangled with a rope or twine.

Over time the case went chilly.

However a person’s DNA, collected from a strand of hair recovered on the crime scene, and genetic family tree not too long ago led investigators to the identification of the killer, officers introduced Monday.

Investigators say Jerry Dewayne Robison killed Holman. Robison died in 2007.

On the time of the killing, Robison was 51 and dwelling in Borrego Springs, in accordance with the county Sheriff’s Division.
The event marks the sixth time sheriff’s cold-case investigators have recognized a killer with the assistance of genetic family tree, a way that employs DNA to provide you with household ties in an effort to zero in on a suspect.

Holman lived in Borrego Springs on and off for many years and as soon as owned and ran a hair salon on the town, in accordance with Union-Tribune archives.

A pal who stopped by to ship her mail discovered her useless in her dwelling on Tilting T Drive about 9 p.m., March 21, 1994. Her dwelling had been ransacked.

There was no proof of a break-in, in accordance with investigators. A sergeant stated on the time that Holman seemingly knew her killer or that the killer was conversant in her habits.

In 2003, the sheriff’s crime lab collected DNA from proof recovered on the crime scene. Investigators then turned to a federal legislation enforcement database of DNA profiles looking for a match, however they got here up empty.

The sheriff’s chilly case crew — which incorporates crime lab personnel, crime analysts and investigators — took on the case in March 2021. They set their sights on fixing the case with the usage of genetic family tree.

A month later, the crew obtained recent DNA from a strand of hair. The pattern allowed the crew to develop leads, they usually recognized Robison as a doable suspect.

Then got here the investigative genetic family tree work. Investigators turned to industrial family tree web sites the place they uploaded the DNA profile to search out family whose DNA matched the profile.

Officers say investigators are in a position to entry solely the knowledge of customers who consent to sharing their data with legislation enforcement.

As matches confirmed up, the chilly case crew used the knowledge — and performed follow-up interviews — to construct household “bushes,” which finally included 118 individuals associated to Robison both by blood or marriage. Ultimately, the method led investigators to Robison’s “direct” family, who offered investigators with their very own DNA, officers stated.

The samples confirmed the DNA the chilly case crew had was Robison’s, officers stated.

“This homicide would seemingly have gone unsolved if not for the usage of investigative genetic family tree,” the Sheriff’s Division stated in an announcement.

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