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The future of solving cold cases

How old data and genealogy is helping investigators
Old personal computer
Posted at 6:36 AM, Apr 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-14 01:17:16-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The future of the cold case can warm up with lightning speed and the use of technology and genealogy can make it happen.

For example, if a distant relative sends in one of those popular DNA kits to find out about your family tree, that can change everything.

Retired Pima County Sheriff’s Department detective James Gamber says the information from those databases can give detectives exactly what they need to get a hit and bust a case wide open.

"The offshoots are going to rise out of DNA technology that’s progressing to the point that people are talking in the future about developing a full physical profile from a DNA sample,” Gamber said.

Gamber spends his spare time combing over evidence and documents to get a feel for the case he’s trying solve. Gamber also says that while some memories and pictures fade there’s always something solid left behind.

You can’t go back and hide stuff. A lot of it is going to be preserving technology, preserving data, people leave a data trail everywhere they go. They preserve data on the phone, on a cloud, and all these different assets,” Gamber said.

It’s not just about the 21st century accounts. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google are just a start. According to Gamber, there’s always another trail, a data trail that can lead detectives to your front door.

"Things like your old pager records, they still exist, we can find a lot of stuff like that. We’re now able to take that electronic forensics and DNA and scientific forensics, and we’re still coming at you. We’re getting better and better and better at it. Whereas all you had is what you knew back in 1987,” Gamber said.

As the future of case investigation becomes more solvable and evolves with new techniques. The reason for putting the pieces together remains the same.

"It’s not really the satisfaction for me, it’s that you brought resolution to this family,” Gamber said.