05 February 2023

I Know Who You Are by Barbara Rae-Venter

 I realize I have been delinquently about posting to my blog, but this book has given me cause to shine a light on a very, very important person in the field of genetic genealogy and Investigative Genetic Genealogy. I highly recommend this book.

I Know Who You Are by Barbara Rae-Venter

In 1990, CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) was a pilot project of the FBI established to create a National DNA Index for law enforcement. CODIS became fully operational in 1998, but is limited since its data is composed of information from previously convicted felons, felony arrestees, missing persons, and unidentified human remains. Sadly, many crime scene DNA specimens do not provide a match to CODIS.

However, through public databases, DNA has become important in solving cold cases. Autosomal DNA has been used since 2009 by genealogists to find their cousins. Today it is being used more and more to help law enforcement solve violent crimes and identify human remains. The methodology used in determining the name of the Golden State Killer has evolved into a new field called Investigative Genetic Genealogy (IGG).

In her book, I Know Who You Are, Barbara Rae-Venter takes us on a journey to show how the events of her life assisted her in doing Investigative Genetic Genealogy and in solving cold cases. The book’s central plot is about the Golden State Killer, but covers other cold cases Barbara has solved, as well. And, she tackles the ethical dilemma of allowing law enforcement access to public databases to solve crimes. Barbara has graciously provided a glossary for those who are not familiar with the terminology for genetic genealogy (the use of DNA for genealogy).

Miraculously, the Golden State Killer was determined in 63 days after his DNA profile was uploaded to a public database. It had been forty years since his last crime. The various investigators over those years had worked many thousands of hours at great expense to the state of California. Luckily, the medical examiner who took a DNA swab of one victim was wise enough to take two swabs which was not required of him. This second pristine swab helped Barbara use her resources to get enough DNA to begin matching that DNA from the perpetrator with others in public databases. Not only does the book provide us with some horrific statements from the victims and family of the victims at the hearing and sentencing, but she recounts how DeAngelo behaved during these times and that it was an act.

Barbara was raised in New Zealand and came to America at the age of twenty. She first became involved with genealogy and then genetic genealogy. She soon volunteered to help adoptees find their birth parents. Her skills as a patent attorney (now retired) assisted her to look outside the box, as we say. Barbara is tenacious, and as she wrote in her book, she believes “everyone deserves their name.” She has given names, and often faces, to long-unidentified victims.

I first met Barbara in London in 2013 at the Who Do You Think You Are? Conference. Our group was touring Darwin’s home when Barbara and I first conversed. We met again at the Southern California Genealogy Society’s conference in June 2018, and she told me then that she had determined Joseph James DeAngelo was the Golden State Killer. Barbara’s name was not made public at that time due to her wishes to stay anonymous, but her book provides the reasons why she later decided to share her name. Sadly, one reason was due to another genetic genealogist claiming to have found the Golden State Killer.

After DeAngelo was taken into custody, April 2018, I had the privilege of having Barbara speak to my local genealogy society, March 30-31, 2019. As she stayed at my home, we had time to become more acquainted with each other. Not only is Barbara brilliant, she is very humble and gracious.

One of the cases in her book, The Bear Brook Murders in Allenstown, New Hampshire, was a thirty-year-old cold case solved by Barbara in 2017. This was the first time in history that U.S. Law Enforcement used autosomal DNA from a rootless hair sample to solve a crime, and the first time that genetic genealogy was used to gain the identity of a living criminal. Barbara was responsible for both techniques being used, and she found the killer just a few days after the DNA profiles were determined.

Through her actions, Barbara Rae-Venter has transformed how law enforcement solves crimes. We owe much to her! Thank you, Barbara, for all you do to help victims and their families find some peace.


I do hope you enjoy the book as much as I did!


10 April 2021

Southern California Genealogy Society's 2021 Virtual Jamboree

Registration is open, and there are two tracks and multiple ways to choose the lectures you desire. AND, what is great about it...you can view the lectures more than once for several months.  Each track as well-known speakers, including Internationally known speakers and some from other countries.

See:  GenealogyJamboree.com

The Genetic Genealogy track is June 4 and 5 (Friday and Saturday. The STANDARD Registration includes 6 liver lectures and 10 recorded lectures of your choice. The PLUS Registration gives you access to all 20 recorded lectures! These lectures can be viewed through October 3, 2021!

Join me for my presentation on Autosomal DNA: Finding Common Ancestors with or without a Chromosome Browser.


The Genealogy track
 is June 11 and 12 (Friday and Saturday). There are 51 speakers from the US, Canada, Ireland, Israel, and the UK.  The STANDARD Registration includes 6 live lectures and 20 recorded lectures of your choice. The PLUS Registration gives you access to all presentations.

And, then...there are other Special Events which will occur between the above two tracks (Monday -Thursday, June 7-10).  Check back at the website for more.  However, these are listed:

Show Specials, Prize Drawings, Exhibitors, Product Q & A, Round Tables and Social Hours. 

Join the fun!

See you there,


21 February 2021

MyHeriage - Limited Promotion - Get Free upload and access to all DNA Features


MyHeritage has a wonderful limited time promotion.  Please see the information below. By uploading you do not pay the upload fee and you will have lifetime access to all the DNA features.

Upload all the DNA kits you manage!

MyHeritage wrote:

I have great news! We’re running a special DNA upload promotion between February 21–28, 2021 so folks who have tested with other services can access all advanced DNA features on MyHeritage, absolutely free!

Free DNA Uplaod

As you know, Genetic Groups significantly increased the resolution of MyHeritage DNA’s ethnicity breakdown to 2,114 geographic regions and our users have been raving about it ever since. But many people who have tested with services such as 23andMe, Ancestry or FamilyTree DNA Family Finder, were unable to join the fun.

MyHeritage allows you to upload your DNA data from other providers and get DNA Matches for free, but a one-time unlock fee of $29 (or a Complete plan with MyHeritage) has been required to access the advanced DNA features — and that includes the Ethnicity Estimate and the new Genetic Groups.

Well, we don’t want you to feel left out just because you tested with another service! For a limited time only, between February 21–28, 2021, we are waiving the unlock fee. You can now upload your DNA data to MyHeritage and get access to your Ethnicity Estimate, Genetic Groups, and other advanced DNA tools such as the Chromosome Browser, AutoClusters, and Theory of Family Relativity™ — absolutely free! These features will remain free forever for the DNA kits you upload to MyHeritage during this week.

Please share this exciting news with your readers and encourage them to take advantage of this offer and upload their data to MyHeritage. Read more about this wonderful offer on our blog.


Daniel Horowitz

Genealogy Expert

04 February 2021

Family Tree DNA's Valentine Sale


It's time to get your sweetheart a lasting Valentine gift!

Family Tree DNA started their Valentine sale today (February 4th) which lasts until February 14.

Save $20 on the Family Finder Test (regularly $79.)

This test is the most popular and allows you to locate cousins anywhere in your pedigree chart back 5 generations or more.

You also receive your bio-geographic comparison (what some mistakenly call Ethnicity) to help you determine the areas of the world that may be connected to your ancestors.

Family Tree DNA provides you with the "real" email of your matches so you can contact them directly rather than going through a company's website and hoping that the match notices your message.

So test...you could be my cousin!

Best wishes,


01 January 2021

2020: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

As 2020 turned our world upside down, I shall also flip the title of this.


The Bad and the Ugly

1.      Covid-19 and the death and division it has created is a no brainer.

2.      The politics that have divided us is definitely bad and at times very ugly and non-democratic.

3.      The destructive riots have literally torn our cities. Peaceful demonstrations are just fine, but, sadly, when our governments do not listen, demonstrations move to more drastic situations. They turn ugly.


So, The Good! …as the New Year begins anew!

1.      Covid-19: We now have some vaccines available.

2.      Politics: We have a new President.

3.      Riots: Although the cause of the riots has not been resolved, they have lessened, and some cities are looking at the tactics of SOME of their police force.


BUT the real good of being locked down for nine months…

1.      Most families have been able to spend more time together and understand the value of any loss.

2.      Many people have learned to Zoom with relatives and friends!

3.      Many people support friends and families either financially or in kind.

4.      Not spending money on travel or dining out, retirees have been able to help their children and grandchildren as well as contribute more to charities and donate to food banks.

5.      We have had time to slow down and see what is of more value to us than material things. We realize that we can live without some things. (exception: toilet paper!)

6.      We have learned to value our first responders.


I’m sure there are more good situations that has come out of 2020, but as a genealogist, the list continues! The time we now spend at home, allows us to …

1.      organize our genealogy files.

2.      scan our photos and other documents.

3.      add names, dates, and places on the back of our photos (WITH an archival pen).

4.      do more research, although online.

5.      attend classes, workshops and conferences via Zoom, Go To Meeting, and Go To Webinar.

6.      write our family stories and childhood memories

7.      write a book or booklet our ancestors, or a particular branch.


No doubt there is much more in each category, but if some of the GOOD in 2020 has escaped you, you have 2021 to explore the possibilities.


Regardless, we all need to look at 2021 as a road out of 2020 even if the first few months do not feel like anything has changed.  It will. We have made it through nine months of chaos; we can make it for several more months! We have been given the wisdom of the medical teams and now need to follow it well.


Wishing all of you the very best 2021 has to offer.  Do take care of yourselves and your family and friends.  Stay safe. Make the best of what you have!



01 August 2020

FTDNA Sale Starts NOW!

FamilyTree DNA Summer Sale is HERE!

Sale Ends Monday, August 31st

Additional bundle discounts are applied when an individual is purchasing more than one test (Family Finder, mtDNA, or Y-DNA) on a kit. Therefore, any cancellation of a test purchased as a bundle will result in a refund of the original sale price, minus the additional bundle discount. Upgrades do not receive the bundle discount.

Single Tests:
Family Finder (FF)                                was $79           now $59
Y-37                                                       was $119         now $109
Y-111                                                      was $249         now $219
Big Y-700                                               was $449         now $399
FMS (mitochondrial DNA)                    was $159         now $139

Bundles are an extra $9 off the Summer Sale prices

Y-12 to 37                          was $79           now $59
Y-12 to 67                          was $149         now $129
Y-12 to 111                        was $199         now $159
Y-25 to 37                          was $49           now $39
Y-25 to 67                          was $119         now $99
Y-25 to 111                        was $189         now $149
Y-37 to 67                          was $89           now $69
Y-37 to 111                        was $139         now $109
Y-67 to 111                        was $89           now $79
Y12 to Big Y-700              was $399         now $359
Y-25 to Big Y-700             was $389         now $349
Y-37 to Big Y-700             was $339         now $319
Y-67 to Big Y-700             was $279         now $259
Y-111 to Big Y-700           was $239         now $229
Big Y-500 to Big Y-700    was $209         now $199
mtDNA to FMS                was $119         now $79
mtPlus to FMS                 was $119          now $79

A few tips: 
It’s wise to upgrade during a sale, and if you have any Y test below the Y-67, it is definitely wise to upgrade. If you do not have the Full Mitochondrial Sequence (FMS), that is equally important.

Bundling the Family Finder test with they Y and mtDNA tests can help you greatly with your pedigree chart.


26 July 2020

AncestryDNA's Coming Changes and What You Can Do - Especially if you have MedBetter


This email is only for those who have tests at AncestyDNA. Also, if you have Chrome and MedBetter, you REALLY need to read this!!!

Many of you already know about AncestryDNA’s coming update where they will remove all your matches from 6-8cMs unless they are in a group, have a note or you have emailed the match.

To clarify, not all the 8cMs will be removed. Because Ancestry is removing 6-7cMs for sure and because they round up the cMs, some of your 8cMs will be gone, if they are really 7.99 and below. You won’t know which ones.

I have spent many, many hours for over a week trying to save my 6-8cMs.  After a week’s work on them I thought I was done as Ancestry indicated I was at the bottom of each list (6cM, 7cM and 8 cMs.  Note that I had also checked the ThruLines and put them in groups as well as the New Matches. BUT, not so….

I’m writing this in the case you have the same situation and may not know it.

After spending a week on doing the above, I returned to the 8cMs and noticed a huge percentage did not have groups.  WHAT!

I also had a recent half-first cousin test at Ancestry. She was not showing up in my matches and I wasn’t in hers.  We share the same grandmother.  I called Ancestry and they told me we were on each other and what group we were in for each other.  The woman at Ancestry suggested I clean my cache and try another browser.  I did both of those.  Chrome, my favorite, constantly updates the site so I wasn’t worried that I didn’t have the current version.

Then I posted to a DNA Facebook group and someone suggested there could be an extension, such as MedBetter.  Well, I do use MedBetter.

See more about MedBetter at https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/medbetterdna/gnbpjempamffbpppblmabeeimkppenla?hl=en-US

I removed MedBetter, and there was not only my currently tested cousin but another cousin that I used to have in my list, but I thought she had removed her kit. AND... there were some others that I had not remembered seeing until they reappeared.  I am talking recent matches here…2nd to 3rd cousins.

SO, to prove to myself that MedBetter was the reason my groups I had formed for a week was the culprit, I spent the last three days (except for cooking, eating, sleeping for only 5-6 hrs, and watering my garden) redoing all my 8cMs matches. I just finished a few minutes ago (Today is 26 Jul 2020 1:20 pm).  I have 17, 733 8cMs. I now have to redo all the 7cMs and 6cMs.

Here are some tips I learned along the way. Maybe they will work for you…

Grouping a cM list: (NOTE:  There is no limit to the number of people in a group.)

1.      Work on one set of cMs at a time (6, 7, or 8). I personally suggest starting with 8cMs as there is a slightly better chance of finding a common ancestor, but do as you wish.
2.      Create a group and label it so it will appear just after the star.  (The groups are in alphabetical order.) (I’m beginning to HATE yellow after using that dot! LOL)
3.      Reduce the size of the font on the page. This makes for less scrolling and the ability to see more matches on a page.
4.      Once you decide which cM list you are doing, use your FIND link (see the three dots in the upper right of Chrome.) and enter a name. Chrome highlights that name in orange. This makes it easy to spot where you started. (I cannot help you if you have another browser or MAC.)
5.      Scroll down a bit from your highlighted name (as far as you wish to work for a time period). Then, work from the bottom of that group upward to the name you highlighted. Why?  Because you only have to do two clicks to get someone in a group by going from bottom to top. Otherwise, you do three clicks. When you are talking about thousands of names that is a big difference! 
6.      Once you have worked your way back to the top where your name is highlighted, you can quickly scroll down to where you began adding people to a group to make sure you did not skip anyone or that you clicked too quickly and the dot did not register. This gives you two opportunities to hit everyone. You can very quickly scroll down to where you started in this group, so that goes quickly. Just focus on the dot to see where there is not one.
7.      Continue this until you have reached the bottom of the list you started. Then begin a new section, and repeat from number 4.

Other tips if you do not have time to do the above or run out of time
after working on one cM group

Check your ThruLines and add them to an appropriate group.

You can use two or three filters located at the top of your matches page. To these add your 6cM, 7cM and/or 8cM matches list.

1.      Check your Unviewed Matches by the various 6 to 8cM categories.
2.      Check your Newest Matches. See SORT and choose DATE which gives you the newest to the most distant. Again, you only need to group 6-8cMs so add those to your filtered search. This you will want to do several times before Ancestry dumps everything which, in theory is the end of August. Of course, they are not clear on what “the end of August” means, so complete all this the week before the end of August to be safe.
3.      Filter by trees and by the 6, 7 and 8cMs and group those matches.
4.      Search for your surnames and if 8cMs or less, group them. You can actually search for a surname within a cM section. (REMEMBER: you can use multiple filters)

Know that if you have not completed a cM section and you exit it, then you may have to spend a lot of time scrolling down to where you left working. I have had to scroll for 50 minutes to get back to where I was, and I still had a good day’s work to complete the section. For this reason, I left my computer as its for three days!

ALSO, be prepared to deal with a page locking up, dumping you, etc.

I wish you the best.
If you do not hear from me in a timely manner, just write again...I was buried in email.  LOL
Genetic Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond by E. Aulicino. Order online at AuthorHouse, Amazon and Barnes and Noble