Killer of North Carolina Couple Revealed with Aid of DNA Phenotyping
Reston, Va. (4 January 2017) — With the generous permission of the Rockingham County NC Sheriff’s Office (RCSO), Parabon® NanoLabs (Parabon) announces the company’s participation in the agency’s successful investigation of the murders of Douglas “Troy” and LaDonna French. On 4 February 2012, the Frenches were fatally shot by an intruder in their home in Reidsville, NC. Although DNA evidence was found at the crime scene, it failed to produce a match in any database or among the more than fifty individuals then known to have been in or near the French home. In January 2015, nearly three years into the investigation and only a month after the debut of Parabon’s Snapshot Phenotyping Service, RSCO Captain Tammi Howell and Detective Marcus Marshall contacted Parabon about the case. Parabon CEO Steve Armentrout remembers the call: “This was an early case for Snapshot. I recall well the investigators’ frustration at having such solid DNA evidence, but no one to match it to.“ He added, “Those are exactly the types of cases for which Snapshot was created.”
The investigation ultimately led to the arrest of José Alvarez, Jr. on 25 August 2015. Details of Snapshot’s critical role in the investigation are presented in a case summary, available at Parabon’s website (French Case Summary). Prior to his arrest, Alvarez’s DNA was matched to the crime scene using traditional DNA analysis. On 8 July 2016, he pled guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced to two consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole.
“Snapshot analysis helps investigators in many ways. In this case, it helped focus the investigation onto a suspect who might have been logically discounted because of results from another type of DNA analysis,” said Parabon’s Director of Bioinformatics, Dr. Ellen Greytak. “Interestingly, both analyses were correct; it was the surprising relationship between the DNA sources that provided the twist in this case.”
Although Snapshot has helped investigators on scores of cases, most often by enabling them to conduct their work more efficiently, details of such cases cannot be publicly released until they have been fully resolved in the criminal justice system.
About Parabon® NanoLabs, Inc.:
Parabon® NanoLabs is a vertically integrated DNA technology company that develops next-generation forensic and therapeutic products, which leverage the enormous power of DNA.