New Photo Technology Could Help Solve Cold Cases
There are a total of more than an average 16,000 homicides and murders in the United States each year. While most of the suspects that commit the crime are caught, not all of them are brought to justice. One report estimates that there are more than 200,000 homicides that have been unsolved in the last 35 years alone. That means there are a lot of unconvicted criminals potentially on the loose, and police are using a new technology to help track them down and close some of the old files.
Parabon NanoLabs is a company based out of Virginia that has been developing a technology called Snapshot that allows them to utilize DNA phenotyping. What this means is that suspects who have had composite sketches drawn of them can have updated new pictures that look extremely accurate. While not many police have used Parabon NanoLabs’ services quite yet, they surely will if it happens to work in Aurora, Colorado.
The police of Aurora have tabbed the company to create an updated image for a suspected killer that possibly committed a heinous crime more than 30 years ago. The man, who is not named, is suspected of killing three members of the Bennett family in the mid 1980’s, using a knife and a blunt object to perform the killings. The three victims were aged 27, 26 and seven, so this has been a very important case for Aurora police.
Parabon NanoLabs has used their new technology to composite a pair of sketches where it shows what he would have looked like when the killing happened, and what he looks like now. A spokesman for the company said that they shouldn’t be taken to gospel, though, as “It is important to note that Snapshot composites are scientific approximations of appearance based on DNA, and are not likely to be exact replicas of appearance.”
The police know that there’s no perfect way to come up with a composition of a criminal from so long ago, but they are hoping that it can provide at least some leads. The technology does not allow for factors that don’t involve DNA to come up with the appearance that they create in their composites. This includes usage of alcohol and tobacco.
Parabon employee Ellen Greytak said that “It’s a very new technology…It’s not intended to be a driver’s license photo, it’s not intended to be a perfect likeness of that person.” Aurora investigator Steve Conner was a bit more optimistic about the Snapshot technology.
As for the Bennett family, they are hoping that this technology can help bring them the just that they have been looking forward to for a long time. One of the victim’s, Bruce Bennett, was looked back on by his sister Yvonne who said that “He was the good boy. He was the kid that never got in trouble. This shouldn’t go unsettled.” The fateful day was what she called “the worst day of my life” and is hoping that anyone that might have information will notify the police right away.