RAPID CITY S.D. (KOTA TV) - On Monday, the Rapid City police chief tweeted his department solved a 51 year investigation with the help of a genealogist.
Woman brings hope to families who have lost a loved one.
"Most part nowadays I do a lot of cold case work so a lot of the calls involve agencies calling in to see what the capabilities are and if we can help solve their cases," says Colleen Fitzpatrick the founder of Identifinder International.
Fitzpatrick uses DNA collected to track down an individual whether its a legal issue, or trying to locate a long lost family member, or in the case in Rapid City, Fitzgerald tested a Y DNA profile to led her to the man responsible for the rape and murder of Gwen Miller in 1968.
"It's basically a string of numbers and then I put it in some software we've developed to search the genetic genealogy databases," says Fitzpatrick.
Decades later, Gwen Miller's family can rest assured knowing their loved one wasn't forgotten.
Even before the technology was perfected, law enforcement preserved evidence that just recently could be used to close this cold case.
"They were able to put together a DNA profile 20 years after. They collected evidence that they had no way to know would be needed eventually to solve the case," says Melisa Lindgren Tiffany the niece of the victim.
Fitzpatrick along with Rapid City Police detective Wayne Keefe were able to identify Eugene Fields as the man who killed Gwen Miller.
Fields cannot be charged since he died in 2009 from a cancerous tumor in his throat.