Cops unveil new technology to crack 20-year old unsolved murder
'Snapshot,' an American-made software, used to update sketch of Renee Sweeney's suspected killer
Greater Sudbury Police have used new DNA technology to create what they believe to be a more accurate image of a suspect in Renee Sweeney's murder, almost 20 years ago.
The investigative team used a software called "Snapshot," developed by Parabon, a DNA technology company based in Virginia.
The technology uses something called phenotyping, which is the process of predicting physical appearance and ancestry from unidentified DNA samples. According to Parabon, Snapshot costs $3,600 US per case.
Police say they believe this updated sketch will lead to new information and help them solve the nearly 20-year-old case. By using Snapshot, police can eliminate people who don't fit this more accurate description and put those who do higher up on their list of suspects.
Snapshot an investigative tool, not an identifier
Snapshot has seldom been used in Canada, and is a more investigative tool rather than something to bring to court.
"We'd never take this picture, and as a result of this picture run out and arrest somebody," Chief Paul Pedersen says. "We take this picture in a direction, and that direction gets us the DNA that confirms it. That's where we're really hoping the public can help us with this."
The technology confirms the suspect is a white man, a note given by witnesses back in 1998. The fact that he has blue-green eyes, brown-blonde hair, and his ancestry is northern European is thanks to this new software.
Focus on tips from 1998
The man in the image is shown around 25 years old, the age police believe him to be in 1998. The investigative team isn't aging the photo because they're trying to spark memories from that time.
"The aging process presumes that the person is still alive," Chief Pedersen says. "We're trying to get the memories of January 1998, then investigate forward from that."
All information and tips on this case are welcome. Police say they're looking for a name, and where that person could be now.
'Cold doesn't mean uninvestigated'
It's been almost 20 years since 23-year-old Renee Sweeney was brutally murdered in January. Sweeney was a Laurentian University student who was working at Adults Only Video on Paris Street when the suspect came in and stabbed her repeatedly.
Though the 20-year mark is coming up, Chief Pedersen says the police force is still working hard on this cold case.
If you have any information, you can call:
- Greater Sudbury Police Service at 705-675-9171 x 2320
- Rainbow Crime Stoppers at 705-222-8477(TIPS)