Dear Representative Armstrong,
I am writing on behalf of the members of the Fraternal Order of Police to advise you of our support for H.R. 9568, the “Carla Walker Act.”
On the evening of 17 February 1974, Carla Walker was sitting with her boyfriend in his car in a parking lot after attending a high school dance. Without warning, Carla was assaulted and abducted from the car by an unknown assailant. Three days later, her body was found. While police at the time had several leads and fluid samples, there was no way at the time to identify the killer with these samples. As a result, the case went cold. In 2020, due to advances in DNA technology, a suspect was arrested and eventually sentenced to life in prison.
This incredible advancement is called forensic genetic genealogy (FGG), a technique that combines traditional genealogy research with DNA analysis. The use of FGG is growing across the United States, and it is having a revolutionary impact in solving old and cold cases as well as assisting in ongoing investigations. Its use has already solved over 100 murder, sexual assault, and unidentified human remains cases, giving peace of mind to the families who finally know the fate of their loved one.
Once a DNA sample is obtained, law enforcement conducts a search of the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) to generate a lead, but this does not always result in a probative match. When this happens, forensic science service providers (FSSPs) may identify leads using FGG, but many laboratories lack the capacity to generate the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) profile required for FGG. In September, the U.S. Department of Justice issued an interim policy that identifies third-party vendors as an option to generate the SNP profile and provide genealogical analysis support.
Your legislation would authorize a grant program that would provide certain eligible recipients, like law enforcement agencies and medical examiners, funds to facilitate FGG DNA analysis in furtherance of criminal investigations. With this funding, agencies would be better able to solve these crimes—including older, cold cases—and bring answers to families and victims who may have been waiting many years for justice to be done.
On behalf of the more than 364,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, I am proud to offer our support for this legislation. If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me or Executive Director Jim Pasco in our Washington, D.C. office.