In Yellowstone County in 1973 a young married couple was strangled to death. The victims were Linda and Clifford Bernhardt. Linda had also been sexually assaulted. The case went on for 45 years with no answers as to who committed such a terrible crime. That was until an online database that traces distant relatives was utilized. GEDmatch was able to determine that Cecil S. Caldwell had indeed murdered and raped Linda Bernhardt and murdered Clifford Bernhardt. Unfortunately, Caldwell died in 2003.
Caldwell was a colleague of Linda’s at the grocery store where the two worked. He had never been convicted of any crimes so his DNA was not in the National Criminal Justice Database. Caldwell appeared to conduct a normal life. He was married with two adopted children at the time of the crime. He then divorced and remarried another women who had children from a previous relationship.
The genetic genealogy has led to the arrests of Joseph James Deangelo, the Golden State Killer in 2018 and Coley MCCraney who raped and killed two young victims. For the family and friends of these victims it is satisfying that the killers were caught alive and held accountable for their actions. However, for Kelly Reich, Linda’s sister, the news is bittersweet. She states for her the resolution of the case does not provide closure or change the end result.
While Reich states she does not have closure, other victim’s families thanks to the DNA technology are able to move on. Parabon NanoLabs, the company that provides the genealogy database has verified 47 suspects since May of 2018. Nine of the suspects were decreased, but that leaves 38 suspects that will be prosecuted for their crimes.
ArborYpsi Law Takeaways
Using DNA and Genetic Genealogy to identify criminals of past crimes is a fantastic tool. It will not only bring closure for victim’s families but it will also prove those wrongfully convicted innocent. As this technology advances and is more widely used it will most definelty exonerate felons of crimes they did not commit. Those who did commit the crime will finally have to pay for what they did, as they should.
Call us at 734-883-9584
Sam Bernstein is an Ann Arbor lawyer who focuses on criminal defense.
ArborYpsi Law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave. Ann Arbor, MI 48108.
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Have You Been Charged with a Crime you did not commit?
DNA is a powerful tool that can prove your innocence. Even if DNA is not an element of the crime scene ArborYpsi law will work tirelessly to clear your name. Do not let a wrongful charge ruin your life. ArborYpsi Law also specializes in DUI charges, assault and battery, animal cruelty, retail fraud, home invasion, drug possession, sexual assault, license restorations, traffic tickets, expungements and domestic assault. Call Sam Bernstein, an Ann Arbor criminal defense lawyer, to help with your legal needs. We have and will travel for you. We have practiced in cities like Plymouth, Pontiac, Ypsilanti, Jackson and Brighton, just to name a few.