CPD seeks DNA technology to identify suspect of 2003 cold case murder

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – Columbus police held a press conference Thursday to release new information regarding an unsolved homicide from 2003.

On March 3, 2003, 64-year-old Iris Harless was murdered inside a home at 4717 Northgate Drive near Reese Road in east Columbus, and now officials are seeking new DNA technology to identify the suspect.

Columbus Georgia Police Department Homicide investigators have recently sought the services of Parabon NanoLabs (Parabon), a DNA technology company in Virginia that specializes in DNA phenotyping.

This is the process of predicting physical appearance and ancestry from unidentified DNA evidence. Law enforcement agencies use the company's Snapshot DNA Phenotyping Service (Snapshot) to narrow suspect lists and generate leads in criminal investigations.

Using DNA evidence from this investigation, Snapshot produced trait predictions for the associated person of interest. Individual predictions were made for the subject's ancestry, eye color, hair color, skin color, freckling, and face shape.

By combining these attributes of appearance, a Snapshot composite was produced depicting what the POI may have looked like at 25 years old and with an average body-mass index (BMI) of 22.

These default values were used because age and BMI cannot be determined from DNA. An Age progressed version of the Snapshot Person of Interest (POI) was also generated.

It was age-progressed to represent an approximate appearance of a 45-year-old man with an average body-mass index of 22.

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.

Environmental factors such as smoking, drinking, diet, and other non-environmental factors including facial hair, hairstyle, and scars cannot be predicted by DNA analysis and may cause further variation between the suspect's predicted and actual appearances.

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