In the first half of 2022, there were a lot of true crime updates, with many cold cases being solved by forensic genetic genealogy. This relatively new technique, sometimes known as investigative genetic genealogy, entails tracking down criminals using businesses that gather consumer DNA samples for genealogy.

Several high-profile murders have been solved in recent years with the use of these samples, probably most notably the capture and conviction of the Golden State Killer. In addition, names of Jane and John Does, who were unidentified for decades, have now been revealed thanks to forensic genetic genealogy.

But not all of these innovations came from forensic genetic genealogy. Unsolved crimes have received varying degrees of closure as a result of witness evidence and even an accused victim’s confession. We’ll examine a few actual crime innovations from 2022 in the sections below.




 

Brittanee Drexel’s remains were discovered after she had been missing for 13 years, and a man was charged with her homicide.

The remains of Brittanee Drexel were discovered in South Carolina on May 11, 2022. Drexel was last seen on April 25, 2009, while vacationing with friends in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for spring break. The 17-year-old, whose parents were divorcing, had left her home in Chili, New York, without notifying anyone. She checked out of her hotel in Myrtle Beach on April 25 to go see a buddy who was staying somewhere else. Drexel was shown on camera leaving her friend’s hotel that evening but never making it back to her own.

The remains were identified as being those of Drexel by DNA and dental data, and police quickly detained Raymond Moody, 62, for her kidnapping and murder. Although Moody had been a suspect since 2012, the specific information that led to his arrest was withheld at first.

One day after her kidnapping, on April 26, 2009, authorities think Drexel’s body was buried. Her mode of death was determined by the coroner to be strangling.

 

El Dorado after 31 years, Jane Doe was finally recognized as Kelly.

A young woman was killed on July 10, 1991, at the Whitehall Motel in El Dorado, Alaska, by her ex-boyfriend and purported pimp James McAlphin. But while her killer was quickly apprehended and found guilty, her identity remained a longer-running mystery.

Although she went by the name “Mercedes” among her acquaintances, authorities discovered that she was in possession of an ID bearing the identity “Cheryl Ann Wick.” Additionally, she had previously been detained for writing bad checks and engaging in prostitution. The genuine Wick, however, revealed to HuffPost that the ID had been taken from someone else: “My sister lived at home and she called me up crying… The police told my parents that I had gotten murdered and I was like, ‘No, I’m fine.’” The young woman has apparently gone by many names during her life, including Kelly Carr, Sharon Wiley, Cheryl Wick, and Mercedes. The “El Dorado Jane Doe” was the last name given to her.

Researchers and detectives were able to identify El Dorado Jane Doe in May 2022, more than 30 years after her murder. The woman, identified only as “Kelly” to preserve the privacy of her family, was finally identified through DNA testing. Police thought they had completed all available DNA testing in 2004 even though they still had Kelly’s fingerprints and photos. In 2018, Yolanda McClary, a genealogy researcher, and crime scene investigator reopened the case, and after four years of digging, Kelly’s real identity was discovered.

 

The roommate of Anita Knutson was detained for her murder.

Anita Knutson was a student at North Dakota’s Minot State University in 2007. Her father and two maintenance personnel entered her flat after she hadn’t been returning calls from her family. They discovered Knutson’s body, and the autopsy revealed that she had been dead for more than a day. A pocket knife that had been used to kill Knutson was discovered at the site. Investigators surmised that the screen of her bedroom window had been removed after the murder to give the window the appearance of an entryway even though nothing had been stolen.

Nichole Rice, Knutson’s then-18-year-old roommate, was one of the few persons with keys to the apartment, and she rapidly came under suspicion. Despite Knutson’s fear of Rice and Rice’s claims to the police that the two were best friends, many in their social circle claimed that the two didn’t get along.

But Rice had a defense: she claimed to have spent the weekend at her family’s farm outside of town.

15 years after Knutson’s death, in March 2022, police detained Rice (who was 34 at the time) on murder charges. Police learned fresh details about a 2008 or 2009 party where Rice allegedly confessed to the killing after drinking. Investigators were able to ultimately compile enough evidence for an arrest as a result of this, in addition to repeating witness interviews and analyzing documents.

 

Finally, the couple’s missing daughter who had been killed in Texas was found.

The bodies of a man and a woman who had been murdered were discovered in the woods near Houston, Texas, in January 1981. Due to the lack of physical evidence at the scene, they were not discovered until late 2021, when genealogical researchers located the sister of John Doe. The young couple was later positively identified as Dean and Tina Clouse, who had just moved from central Florida to Lewisville, Texas. When Dean’s sister inquired about the infant after learning of her brother’s passing, the investigators were taken aback.

Holly, Dean and Tina’s infant daughter, was less than a year old at the time of their deaths. Nobody was aware of what happened to her. Soon after discovering Dean and Tina’s identities, detectives started looking for Holly. It didn’t take long; Holly, who had been adopted as a child, was discovered alive and well in Oklahoma in June of 2022.

Family members have their theories, but it is unclear who killed Dean and Tina or whether their killer or killers placed Holly for adoption. Before he passed away, Dean apparently belonged to a “Jesus People” group. His mother claims that after he had gone to Texas and his letters had stopped, someone from the group contacted her about returning his automobile. In order to reclaim the car and inquire about her son, she visited with a group of Jesus People. However, she claims they informed her that he had joined their organization and was severing relations. Authorities advised both families not to contact the pair despite their attempts to file a missing person report for them.

The story is still shrouded in mystery, but Holly is said to have kept in touch with her long-lost relatives.