Va. investigators put face to decades-old DNA evidence

CHANTILLY, Va. — Loudoun County investigators hope new technology can finally put a face, and eventually a name, to the attacker of a 9-year-old girl who was abducted from her home in 1987 and sexually assaulted.

DNA evidence gathered at the time has not matched genetic profiles in law enforcement data banks, so investigators have been unable to identify a suspect over the almost 30 years since the crime.

Now, Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office detectives have been able to develop a composite profile, using a new computer system that predicts a suspect’s appearance based on DNA evidence that’s been gathered.

Snapshot is a DNA phenotyping system developed by Virginia based Parabon NanoLabs. Predictions using Snapshot are made on a suspect’s ancestry, eye color, hair color, skin color, freckling and face shape.

In the Loudoun case, composites were created to show what the suspect might have looked like at age 25, and then again at age 50.

At the time of the assault, the suspect was described as a white male with a thin build, approximately 6 feet 3 inches tall, brown hair, with a mustache.

Loudoun investigators hope the visual depictions, which are not likely to be exact replicas, might jog a citizen’s memory.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Dave Canham at 703-777-0475. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Solvers at 703-777-1919. Crime Solvers is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and indictment.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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