November 29, 2022
The Forever Witness: How DNA and Genealogy Solved a Cold Case Double Murder with Edward Humes (Virtual)
Tuesday, November 29, 2022
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
In 1987, a young Canadian couple on an overnight trip to Seattle vanished without a trace. A week later, their bodies were found, one strangled, the other shot. It was a brutal crime and a perfect crime. An international manhunt never found a suspect, and eventually the murders that stunned the Pacific Northwest slipped from the headlines. Three decades later, a dogged detective revived the case, teaming up with an actress-turned-genealogist to find the killer. They wielded a new forensic tool, built not in police labs but from home DNA tests popular with family tree hobbyists. Could they solve the Pacific Northwest’s most enduring mystery and make history with the first murder trial based on genetic genealogy? And if so, at what cost?
"The Forever Witness" takes readers inside the hidden world of genetic genealogy, where ancestry sleuths can track someone down even if that person’s individual DNA was never tested. No killer can elude this unregulated science—nor anyone else, should it be misused. More than 40 million Americans have blithely made their DNA searchable—for fun—through sites like 23andMe and Ancestry.com. But how effective are current privacy safeguards once our DNA is out in the world? Can this powerful tool remain a force for good alone? Or does crossing this bridge risk giving up the last vestiges of privacy in the digital age—control over the very blueprint of who we are?
Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist Edward Humes digs into these questions and more in his essential new book about the killings at the heart of the genetic genealogy revolution. Humes, who won the Pulitzer for reporting on the military and a PEN Award for his juvenile court book, No Matter How Loud I Shout, has written numerous critically acclaimed nonfiction works. His last, Burned, which the Washington Post called “riveting…powerful,” helped free a woman in 2021 after she spent decades behind bars because of flawed forensic science.