Using Genetic Genealogy: Cold Case Review of April Tinsley Homicide-Galena

Registrations are closed for this event

Waiting List

Please enter in a 2 digit number
Date: Monday, January 20, 2020
Registration Deadline: Friday, January 10, 2020
Time: 8:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Instructor Location:
Desoto House Hotel
230 S. Main Street
Galena, IL
Instructor: Det. Brian Martin, Ft. Wayne Police Department, Ft. Wayne, IN
Member's Fee: $0
Non-Member & Civilian Fee: $0

TIME: 8:30 AM—12:30 PM          4 Hours

(This training is part of the Northwest Illinois Law Enforcement Executive Association (NWILEEA) conference)

L.E. Executives and command staff will have priorty seating

This a shared training between the NICJC and NITAB

Agenda: Det. Martin will give a case brief of the 1988 abduction, rape and murder of 8-year-old April Tinsley. This was a high-profile cold case homicide that placed the Fort Wayne, Indiana community in fear for 30 years. The killer continued to taunt the community and law enforcement, leaving hand written notes on a barn in 1990.  He also left four threatening letters containing used condoms and polaroid pictures of the half-naked suspect on the bicycles and homes of four girls, ages 7-8. The killer demanded media attention, bragged about killing April Tinsley and vowed to rape and kill again.

Det. Martin will discuss how detectives never gave up hope in catching the killer. Detectives had over 1,300 persons of interest over the 30 years and narrowed the list to approximately 150 possible suspects. He will discuss how GENETIC GENEALOGY and Parabon Nano labs assisted in breaking the case wide open, leading to the arrest of John D. Miller in less than two months. John D. Miller was interviewed and gave a full confession to the crime, along with grizzly details.  John D. Miller accepted a plea agreement and was sentenced to 80 years in prison.



Detective Brian Martin has been a Police Officer for 25 years, the last 7 as a lead homicide detective.  The last two years have been spent as the lead cold case detective with the Fort Wayne Police Department.  Detective Brian Martin has been a member of the F.B.I. Northeast Indiana Bank Robbery Task Force for the past 7 years as well. 

Prior to his current assignment in the Homicide Division, he worked undercover narcotics for approximately 10 years.  He also helped form the Clandestine Laboratory team and lead this team for two years.  Detective Martin been a member of the Fort Wayne Police Department Emergency Services Team for the past 17 years, serving several years as an Assistant Squad leader. Detective Martin has also worked temporary duty assignments with the F.B.I. Safe Streets Task Force, with a focus on narcotics and violent street gangs.  Detective Martin has a Bachelor Degree in Criminal Justice from Indiana State University.

Det. Martin has also been featured on 60 minutes, CNBC, The History Channel, The BBC, and just completed a documentary for a new ABC documentary "DNA Detectives" which set air January of 2020. Case investigators have just received the Honorable Mention for the TOP COPS Awards to be presented May 12 2019 in Washington D.C.

Partial funding provided by Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board and MTU#1’s request for certification of this course has been approved by the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board


Snapshot Genetic Genealogy

Genetic Genealogy (GG) is the combination of genetic analysis with traditional historical and genealogical research to study family history. For forensic investigations, it can be used to identify remains by tying the DNA to a family with a missing person or to point to the likely identity of a perpetrator.

By comparing a DNA sample to a database of DNA from volunteer participants, it is possible to determine whether there are any relatives of the DNA sample in the database and how closely related they are (see Snapshot Kinship Inference for more details). This information can then be cross-referenced with other data sources used in traditional genealogical research, such as census records, vital records, obituaries and newspaper archives.


Why Use Genetic Genealogy?

Genetic genealogy gives you a powerful new tool to generate leads on unknown subjects. When a genetic genealogy search yields useful related matches to an unknown DNA sample, it can narrow down a suspect list to a region, a family, or even an individual. Paired with Snapshot DNA Phenotyping to further reduce the list of possible matches, there is no more powerful identification method besides a direct DNA comparison. Identity can then be confirmed using traditional STR analysis.

How Does This Technique Differ From Familial Searches in the CODIS Database?

Our genetic genealogy service is somewhat like familial search, but it differs in three very important ways: (1) we only search public genetic genealogy databases, not government-owned criminal (STR profile) databases, such as CODIS; (2) because the DNA SNP profiles we generate contain vastly more information than traditional STR profiles, genetic relatedness can be detected at a far greater distance (see Snapshot Kinship Inference); and (3) because genetic genealogy matches can be cross-referenced by name with traditional genealogy sources, such as, existing family trees can be used to expedite tree-building and case-solving. This technology and our innovative techniques combine to create a groundbreaking system for forensic human identification.