DNA advances bring hope to families of homicide victims

In 1988, when April Tinsley went missing, DNA was just becoming a tool for law enforcement.

Posted: Jul 17, 2018 9:58 PM
Updated: Jul 19, 2018 9:42 AM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - The Fort Wayne Police Department caught a big break in finding a suspect in the murder of April Tinsley 30 years ago thanks to DNA advancements over the years.

In 1988, when April Tinsley went missing, DNA was just becoming a tool for law enforcement.

Thirty years later, police used publicly available genealogy database research to lead them to John D. Miller.

Families of murder victims hope this new practice will be used in more cases in Allen County.

"It absolutely gives me hope," said Stacey Davis whose son, Codi McCann, was shot and killed outside the State Bar and Grill in 2016.

Davis is still waiting for an arrest in her son's murder, but she's optimistic with the advancement of DNA.

"It gives me hope my case will be solved. It also gives me hope I won't have to wait 30 years," she told FOX 55 Tuesday.

Earlier this year, Fort Wayne police hired Parabon Nanolabs to run DNA found on April Tinsley in 1988.

"We are providing a genetic tip. This is not the end of an investigation. Police still need to build a case," said Steven Armentrout, Parabon NanoLabs CEO.

Armentrout said they are working with police departments from across the country to run DNA, helping solve cold cases.

A success he didn't see coming.

"If you would've asked me five years ago, if we would have this kind of success, I would not have been able to say yes," said Armentrout.

Allen County prosecutor Karen Richards said this new technology will be used again, and should be a message to other criminals in the community who might think they got away.

"This case should tell them something different," Richards told reporters during a news conference.

It will also bring closure to families across the summit city.

There are a lot of moms out there, I know personally, where it will help in their case," Davis said.

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