Accused of rape, a man entered his own DNA into the genealogy database
- Tampa Bay police used genealogy testing websites to find a suspect in a 14-year-old rape case.
- Officers used the GEDmatch and FamilyTree websites to find a DNA match in the cold case.
- “The victim can now have an end to their life,” Deputy Police Chief Ruben Delgado said.
Tampa Bay police detectives say they arrested a suspect in a 14-year-old rape case after using a genealogy testing website’s database to match DNA evidence.
“The victim may now have an end to their life,” Tampa Deputy Police Chief Ruben Delgado said.
According to police reports, the rape took place in 2007 when a University of Tampa student was returning to her dorm after attending the popular Gasparilla Pirate Festival.
The victim told detectives that she was intoxicated and may have tripped when the suspect, Jared Vaughn, offered to accompany her to his dorm where he began to rape her .
DNA evidence was collected at the time but found no matches, and the case remained unsolved for over a decade. In 2020, however, detectives revisited the case and began searching genealogy testing databases, including GEDmatch and FamilyTree, two services often used by people researching their ancestry, to find potential matches.
A lab identified Vaughn, now 44, as the possible suspect, so officers traveled to West Virginia, where he now lives, to perform another DNA test, which brought a match of one in 700 billion.
“It took 14 years to solve this case, but it was something that was important to us and was important to the victim, to get closure on this case,” Delgado said, according to Fox 13.
“That was the whole idea of this team, to kind of take those cases that haven’t been resolved, kind of re-energize them.”
Florida was the first state to establish its own forensic genealogy unit in 2018. Similar units have since been created in California and Utah to resolve cold cases.
Special Agent Mark Brutnell of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement urged people to allow law enforcement access to their DNA.
He said: “Our success depends on information found in public genealogy databases, where participants – and this is important – must register for matches with law enforcement.”