The aspect of genetic technology has found its way to the forefront of technology and continues to grow. Where these kind of investigative pieces are usually grounds within 20/20 or narrative fiction procedurals, “The Genetic Detective”, which was made in conjunction with ABC News, plays like a more reality based CSI but through the use of computers. The trick is to show the inherent path of DNA and make it accessible while not losing the process of the problem solving. What is great is that each episode speaks to the path of family and how it breaks down. Genetic Genealogist CeCe Moore, who once began as a model but returned to her love in genetics, was one of the first people to help move the structure of family trees to backtrack genetics before the advent of consumer DNA testing which only strengthened the texture of what she did and does. Adoptees started coming to her to find biological parents through this process. She was eventually brought in with a Washington based firm who helped her realize the bridge between privacy and investigation and how to work with law enforcement in this way. When she helped track the Golden State Killer, it opened the door t other possibilities on cold cases.
The aspect of cold cases now can take on a whole new meaning as long as the DNA of certain cases in kept The first one she investigates (seen in Episode 1: “The Case Of The Missing Lovebirds”) was in Snohomish County in Washington State in the case of a double murder that happened to a young couple where they were killed in separate places. The killer had covered up many aspects but not his DNA. Because the incident took place in the mid 90s, the technology was not quite in play yet. The explanation that Moore offers about how the certain genetic markers have to match up is fascinating. Without giving too much away, it shows how the DNA database that has grown in the United States really can aid with the process. CeCe Moore does a great job of representing the science while showing the path of data and analytics in this new investigative world. And it brings a different perspective to this kind of show which in many instances are done on smaller or more abstract cablers. With the texture and intricacy of ABC News and the ability to integrate graphics for maximum effect while still making it palpable, this investigative series shows the process without it seeming like school work. It also provides the inherent basis for inspiring a new generation of STEM students, especially women to pursue a path that fascinates them as it did with CeCe.
By Tim Wassberg