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tv   Our World  BBC News  December 30, 2021 9:30pm-10:01pm GMT

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the headlines: a record number of covid—19 cases are recorded in the uk, and a further 332 deaths are reported. the uk health secretary, sajid javid, says the government will buy hundreds of millions more lateral flow tests, after days of supply issues. a key witness speaks publicly after ghislaine maxwell was found guilty of grooming underage girls to be abused byjeffrey epstein. afghanistan's former president defends his decision to flee the countryjust before the taliban take—over, saying he did it to prevent the destruction of kabul. now on bbc news, it's time for our world. james clayton looks at recent breakthroughs in dna technology which help to solve murders. this film contains scenes which some viewers may find upsetting. human remains, possibly a female, found lying
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near an unoccupied house. badly decomposed. hands and wrists still bound together. 30 years ago, a young woman's body was discovered in the american midwest. nobody knew who she was. it's america's silent, mass disaster, that there are so many people without names. she became known as �*grace doe�* — one of an estimated 250,000 unsolved murders in the us. i was going to keep looking. i did not care what it took, what i had to do. now, dna from genealogy websites is revolutionising cold case murder investigations like grace's, but at what cost? we have a multibillion—dollar industry unearthing the secrets of our genes. you have an absolute right to privacy but, at the same token, we have a right to not get murdered and raped.
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so who was grace and can america's dna detectives find out who killed her? i'm here in the middle of the us to follow a case that has stumped the police for more than 30 years now. and i'm particularly interested in it because the police are using a technique involving dna tracing that's revolutionising cases of missing people and also murder investigations, but it's also controversial. in december 1990, a body of a woman was discovered near an abandoned farmhouse in mcdonald county, south—western missouri.
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the victim had been restrained with six types of rope. the police knew she'd been murdered, but little else. it's going to be 0scar talley road. 0scar talley road. all right, awesome! we'll see you in a bit. thanks. wow! this really is a dirt road. we are in the middle of nowhere. hi, i'mjames. nice to meet you. and you, sir? i'm gary from up the road. lovely to meet you. lieutenant hall has been working the case for m years. although he's driven by, he's never been to the site where the body was found. gary pugh, a neighbour who lived on the road at the time of the discovery, has come to help us pinpoint the exact location. so what was it — can you describe what it was like then? just an old farmhouse. of course, it was old and deteriorated. i'd smell this odour,
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i did not know what it was, it was kind of faint and i thought it was in the lumber barn nearby. so we're talking right here where they saw the skull in the grass and stuff. so the skull and the mandible and everything else kind of laid out back towards where the house laid this way with the main part of her body and stuff. for decades, there wasn't a single lead in the case. unfortunately, the autopsy didn't show any because it was so degraded, they couldn't show what all happened to her.
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they were not able to determine exactly how she was killed. you did not have a name, you didn't know how she was killed? no, they didn't, and we didn't know who she was. one of the newspapers, or someone in the news, said, "by the grace of god that we would find out who she was," and the name stuck as �*grace�*. we're going to learn about collecting osteometric data. grace's case was picked up byjennifer bengtson, a lecturer in anthropology at the university of southeast missouri. one of them is learning to take measurements. a specialist in analysing bones, she offered to help. it's america's silent, mass disaster that there are so many
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people without names. grace doe's names were sent tojennifer and a new investigation began. so when we got the remains here, the first thing we did was estimation of sex, estimation of age at death, stature estimation, ancestry estimation. but obviously, this was an old case and it was unlikely that we were just magically going to look at these bones and know who they belonged to. the case seemed as cold as ever. but on the west coast of america, one investigation was set to transform the way that law enforcement solves cold cases. investigators used publicly shared dna data to track down... the golden state killer wore a ski mask and left no fingerprints... how police used genealogy. websites to try to identify... cbs contacted other genealogy websites to try to... in 2018, the suspect for a notorious serial killer in california, the golden state
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killer, was arrested. after a murderous rampage in the late �*70s and �*80s, the hunt for the killer had gone cold. that was until an unusual technique was used to find him, involving genetic ancestry. ancestry websites are designed for people to find their genetic relatives through dna links, but the police realised if they put the golden state killer's dna into one of these websites, they could find the killer's relatives — a crucial clue. most ancestry websites don't allow law enforcement checks, but a few do. the one the police chose to use was a company called gedmatch. the golden state killer is almost a halo case for the success of the technology. so you upload the profile, gedmatch will give back a series of matches. and it basically says it will give you a name, an e—mail address and how much dna you share with that profile. so, effectively, what they're doing is building family trees.
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so, you have to build back far enough till you reach what they call a most recent common ancestor, and then figure out where the trees came together and then build forward from there. so, by doing that, you're able to zero in on who the potential suspect is. the capture of the golden state killer was a proof of concept moment. the technique worked. so, could it be used to identify grace? frustrated by the case, jennifer bengtson and her students managed to raise enough money to pay genealogy specialists 0thram to look into the case. 0thram was founded shortly after the golden state killer was identified, with a mission to solve unsolvable cases. you want to find hits that are within third cousins to make the case tractable. so, we definitely had some that were within the third cousin range, but there were no straightforward matches that would be within second cousins.
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so, that is someone who would share a great—great—grandmother or grandfather, that kind of situation? yes. just like with the golden state killer, david and his team drew up another family tree. they worked out a common ancestor — a shared great—great—grandpa rent. using that family tree, they developed a theory. when 0thram did their search, they came up with several different people that all share the same dna with the person who was found in missouri, and one of those people is called danielle pixler. she lives in topeka, kansas, so we've come here to speak to her. i think i was in my 20s when i started to, like, you know, get on facebook. as an adult, danielle was told she had an older brother and sister that she'd never met. she managed to connect
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with her brother robert, but she never found her sister shawna. i made posters, printed flyers. i would go into little, tiny towns. people thought i was stalking them. so, where did you start putting these posters up? i tried putting them on the trees. it didn't work, so i put them on signs — stop signs, yield signs. i put them on car windows. i was going to keep looking. i did not care what it took, what i had to do. so, ijust — i didn't know if i was going to find who her or not, but i was going to keep looking. by building out a family tree, 0thram was able to work out that, in all likelihood, danielle was closely related to grace doe. danielle was then asked by police to give a dna sample. it was a match. the murder victim was her missing sister — a sister who she'd always
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hoped to meet one day. i didn't know if it was her or not, but it sunk in because i know 100% it is her. the nightmares are bad. i feel like i was there. in may this year, grace doe was identified as shawna beth garber. these are the only two pictures that danielle has of her. well, danielle's dna essentially solved one part of this case, which is that we now know that grace doe is actually shawna beth garber, and that now raises a whole load of different questions because now we know who she is, we now have to ask what was she doing and, of course, who murdered her?
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shawna was removed from her mother and adopted when she was five years old, before danielle was born. so, we're travelling to meet her older brother robert, to find out more about the family and what shawna was like. so, robert always thought that he'd find shawna, and it's pretty common that adopted brothers and sisters would try to find each other into adulthood. and so, this news that she'd been killed and she's been killed 30 years ago has hit him pretty hard, and i want to find out firstly how that feels but secondly, what kind of person shawna was, because he's one of the only people — that we've found, anyway — who knew shawna, can remember shawna, and the kind of difficult upbringing that he and her had.
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could this be rob? is it rob? yeah. hello, rob! how's it going? it's james. it's really nice to meet you, sir. how's it going? nice to meet you, nice to meet you. 0ur biological mother was... ..a little demented and rather evil, to be nice about it. and shejust... ..didn�*t take very good care of us and... ..i was the one that took —
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you know, was the target of everything until the incident that got us taken away from her. and that was way above and beyond everything else. she poured lighterfluid on shawna and threw a match at her. i'm sorry... it's ok. that... and that was... after that, i only saw shawna twice, maybe three times after that. completely lost her. she was the biggest part of my life, you know?
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there was part of me that's been missing since then. shawna was never given a funeral. instead, her remains lay in storage for years, in the hope the case would one day be solved. to put it bluntly, my sister has been sitting in a box on a shelf for 30 years. she won't be any more. advocates of this technology say that could be used to solve tens of thousands of murderers in the us alone, but there's a question of privacy here. do we want law enforcement knowing so much information about us? genetics isn'tjust any
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old tool for law enforcement, it's a particular and a potent tool because it's not like a phone number that you just change when you get too many spam calls or even a social security number that you might have reissued if somebody takes yours. it's a technology in its infancy. we don't know yet what it will tell us, how well it will tell us things about people. the big criticism of this technology is around consent. so, after i get my dna tested, i can go on to gedmatch and i can upload my raw dna files to the website. here's the problem with that — i share dna with my relatives, and critics argue that once i've uploaded my dna and agree to law enforcement checks, i am — by association — also opting in my entire extended family. and using my dna, the police can link hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of my genetic relatives to a crime, potentially none of whom have consented to be on a database used by the police. shawna garber�*s link
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to danielle pixler came not because danielle had uploaded her dna, but because someone she'd never met, who shared some of her dna, had. once one person puts up their dna, they're essentially agreeing for their entire extended family to be searchable, and that's a privacy issue, isn't it? well, it's an interesting issue. it's not really specific to dna. so, suppose you and i are room—mates at a home and i'm not at the house and the police come in to your house and say, "james, could i please take a look inside your home?" if you say yes, you've essentially accepted that invitation for both of us. law enforcement doesn't access the underlying dna, but they do have access to the relationships that you would have to that unknown person in these photos. and that's the privacy concern. i think the thing that people have to make their mind up. you have two competing priorities here. the first priority is that
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you have an absolute right to privacy, but on the same token, you have a competing priority, which is we have the right to not get murdered and raped. what amount of privacy are you willing to give up versus, you know, getting increased safety in society? missing people and murderers are one thing, but there's another concern here, too — that this technology might be used for lesser and lesser crimes until it becomes endemic in the legal system. with severity of offences, you know, we hear about serial rape, we hear about serial murders, but there might be cases for using it in an immigration context or using it in a less serious crime context. we structure our society with suspicion—based reasons to intrude on people's privacy because we feel as a community that was the right thing to do, even when it means occasionally some crimes go unsolved. i think it is incredibly hard to say this — i don't mean to minimise or be
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dismissive of the claim — but we don't make policies about the civil liberties of our whole society based on the personal feelings of single victims or the needs of single victims. there are an estimated 250,000 unsolved murders in the us alone — a number that increases by around 6,000 each year. advocates of this technology say it is cruel to tell a victim's family that the technology's available to solve a crime but it can't be used. as far as the privacy, until the original company that danielle went through, until they contacted her and got her permission for them to give out her information, lieutenant hall didn't know who she was, didn't know her name,
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didn't know where she was, you know? i hope they find out who did it. i hope they pay. # 0h, say can you see. # by the dawn's early light? tonight's big game on the big field is pineville, two, - anderson, one. in 1990, that was very unusual, to have a murder — especially, you know, one where we don't even know who the victim is and can't identify. all we had was a decomposed body and skeletal remains. you could walk down the street or the road without any problems.
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it's like if i'm driving around on patrol, always thinking, "who brought her out to this part, dumped her? who did this?" it was always on my mind. do you think there's a chance the actual murder can be solved? i really do. i think the murder can be solved now we know who she is. and try to find the people who knew her when she was an adult, and up to the point of the time when she disappeared, that would be crucial in trying to find out who she is. as far as unidentified human remains cases, if you look at the national missing and unidentified persons system, there are, i think, like, 13,000 sets of unidentified human remains. i think a lot of these cases are solvable. they may have at one point not been solvable,
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but now that this technology is available, i think that it'sjust going to be solve after a solve after solve. after solve after solve. injune, shawna beth garber was buried in bucklin, kansas, her brother rob and sister danielle looking on. there's still so much they do not know about their sister. they still don't have a picture of her as an adult. whatever your view of the technology, though, a family was at least able to say goodbye. you know, she will be nearfamily, she will be near where, you know,
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we can go out and take care of her site. she won't be alone any more. i suppose, if you think aboutjust how cold this case was, it's very unlikely that shawna's identity would have ever been revealed and the murder investigation could step up, if it wasn't for this technique. the process works, we know that, it is now down to countries across the world to work out whether or not they want to give law enforcement so much information, so much genetic information, about you and me.
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hello there. it's been very mild today, like yesterday. temperature reached 16 degrees, this time around cambridge, helped by a bit of sunshine. we stay in this very mild airfor the next few days into the new year. it'll be accompanied by some blustery winds, mind you. the winds are coming from a long way south, all the way from the azores and madeira, bringing that mild air up to the uk, bringing in a lot of moisture in the form of cloud, and there's still some rain around as well. we've got some wet weather into this evening across northern england and northern ireland. 0vernight, that pushes up into central, southern scotland, and we'll see a band of rain sweeping eastwards across other parts of england and wales. that'll be helped along by some blustery winds, which will keep it mild. temperatures not falling very much for most of us, except in northern scotland, where the winds are lighter, we've got clearer skies and it's a bit chillier here. that rain in east anglia and the southeast scoots away. for many parts of the uk, it will turn drier and brighter, perhaps with some sunshine.
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but we've still got the cloudy zone across central, southern scotland, some outbreaks of rain. the rain should become light and patchy into the afternoon. still going to be mild in the central belt — 13 degrees here. 16, possibly even 17 degrees in east anglia and the southeast of england. now, the previous warmest new year's eve was in 2011, where temperatures reached 111.8 degrees in wales, so we're possibly going to beat that figure. it stays very mild into the evening if you are seeing in the new year. this is the sort of weather we're expecting — some patchy rain for northern and western parts of the uk, accompanied by a strong southerly wind, but that, of course, is keeping the mild air going. it will be a windy day for new year's day. we've got a band of rain to sneak its way eastwards which will be followed by brighter weather, some sunshine, but also some showers, heavy ones for western scotland and northern ireland. still very mild for new year's day, temperatures widely14—16 degrees. after saturday, after new year's day, the weather starts to change a bit because that really mild air
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is getting pushed away from the uk, and instead, ourwind direction is more of a west to southwesterly wind. it could still be mild, butjust not as mild. and we've got some wetter weather developing on sunday as well, particularly across southern and western parts of the uk. showers or longer spells of rain. that rain could turn quite heavy as well. temperatures will be a few degrees lower on sunday, but it's still mild, though, for this time of the year.
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