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Genetic Genealogy for Law Enforcement - Unidentified Human Remains & Crime Scene DNA

Forensic Investigative Genetic Genealogy (FIGG) uses both genetic analysis along with traditional historical and genealogical research to find common ancestors, build family trees and find potential candidates who might fit the time and place of a crime and/or other evidence. For Law Enforcement (LE), it can be a powerful tool that can point to the potential identity of a perpetrator or identify remains by linking DNA to the family of a missing person. 

Types of Cases That Use FIGG

Types of Cases that can use forensic investigative genetic genealogy

Law Enforcement is continually turning to FIGG when all other traditional methods have left cases cold. As of today, hundreds of cases nationwide have been solved via LE working with FIGG agencies. Because CODIS is limited by its pool of candidates and familial searching (in some states), FIGG can be a powerful tool to generate leads on unknown subjects narrowing down potential candidates to a region, a family, or even an individual.


In addition, FIGG is not just being used on cold cases. LE is starting to use this tool on hot cases as a matter of public safety stopping serial offenders in their tracks. 

The Process

Below is the overall process of using FIGG for a LE case:

Overview of the forensic investigative genetic genealogy process - codis search to str confirmation

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How long does the process take?

With a DNA data file, data upload can begin immediately. The quality of the matches and closeness in relation will give us a good idea regarding the scope of the project. With close matches, it is possible to have a candidate(s) in several weeks or even days. With tougher matches, the process can take much longer, but is not impossible.

Find out if FIGG would be a good fit for your case.

Cost to A Community

First and foremost, the loss of human life as well as the trauma involved with violent crimes is the largest cost to society, however, there are also significant monetary costs to a community. A study by Iowa State University1 quantified this amount in terms of victim costs, criminal justice system costs, lost productivity estimates for both the victim and the criminal, and estimates on the public's resulting willingness to pay to prevent future violence.

Cost of a Homicide:

Cost of a Sexual Assault:

When cases get closed in a timely manner, this not only reduces the risk to public safety and increases confidence in LE, but it also dramatically decreases the monetary costs a department and society as a whole endure. Time after time, FIGG has proven to be a useful tool for providing these new leads bringing closure to  both hot and cold LE investigations and thereby reducing the overall cost to society.

1 ISU team calculates societal costs of five major crimes; finds murder at $17.25 million, Iowa State University News Service,

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