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Just Science Podcast: Just Solving Cold Cases with Forensic Genetic Genealogy

NCJ Number
Leighton D'Antoni
Date Published
August 2022

In this fourth episode of the “Case Studies Part 1” mini-season of the “Just Science” podcast series of the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence is an interview with Leighton D’Antoni, the Assistant District Attorney in Dallas County, Texas, who discusses how forensic genetic genealogy (FGG) was used as an investigative tool to help solve a series of violent cold cases.


In the 1980s, several violent sexual assaults occurred in Dallas County, Texas and Shreveport, Louisiana. These cases were all linked by a foreign DNA profile; however, no suspect was found, and the cases went cold. In 2020, the investigations were re-opened, and FGG was used to help identify a common suspect in all six cases. In this Just Science interview, Leighton discusses the journey to bring justice to survivors almost 40 years later and the prospects of using FGG as a tool to help solve previously unsolved cases. When the cases were reopened, D’Antoni’s office teamed up with the FBI to use forensic genetic genealogy (FGG) to help identify that foreign profile all cases had in common. FGG is the procedure used to identify the “Golden State killer” cold case in California. The Dallas field office had earlier appointed an agent to be the FGG guru for Dallas. D’Antoni describes the FGG process and how it led to solving the cold cases while becoming an established investigative technique in Dallas for cold cases with common unidentified DNA. The management of evidence to support a future FGG is discussed.