How Your Family Tree Could Catch a Killer

By Raffi Khatchadourian

The New Yorker

On Thanksgiving morning, 1987, Rick Bart, a homicide detective in Snohomish County, Washington, got word that a pheasant hunter had discovered a body in a field beneath High Bridge, an overpass spanning the Snoqualmie River. Bart was preparing to spend the day with his family, but he went anyway. He was one of only two homicide detectives in Snohomish—a jurisdiction, just north of Seattle, that covers more than two thousand square miles. He was familiar with the crime scene. It was near the Monroe Honor Farm, where inmates milked cows to provide dairy to the state prison system. The bridge was secluded enough to be private, but accessible by a country road. Teen-agers drank there.

When Bart arrived, morning fog was clinging to trees along the riverbank. The body was partially shrouded by a blue blanket. Lifting it revealed signs of a brutal death. The man’s head had been struck with a rock. A clump of hair, ripped from his scalp, was in the grass. A ligature, made from plastic twine and two red dog chokers, was around his neck. An autopsy later revealed that he had been gagged with a tissue and a pack of Camel Lights.

“We had no I.D.—didn’t know who he was,” Bart recalled. “We didn’t know when he was put there, at all. There was nothing.”

Continue to full article . . .

Picture: Tony Webster from Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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