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Investigative genetic genealogy leads police to a suspect in series of California kidnappings and sexual assaults

<i>KCRA</i><br/>Sacramento County District Attorney Thien Ho speaks during a news conference on September 6.
Sacramento County District Attorney Thien Ho speaks during a news conference on September 6.

By Cheri Mossburg, CNN

(CNN) — A man suspected of a series of suspected sexual assaults in Sacramento, California, over a decade ago, was identified and arrested through the use of investigative genetic genealogy, officials announced Tuesday.

A recent cold case investigation by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office unveiled a full DNA profile. Investigative genetic genealogy led them to the man police say is responsible for an attack in 2013 and two others in 2010.

Kabeh Cummings, 35, was arrested in New York last week in a coordinated effort between police, the sheriff and the district attorney’s office, as well as the FBI, Sacramento Police Chief Katherine Lester said in a news conference Tuesday.

“It was through the tireless efforts of all the agencies involved here today that brought him to justice, but really what it is and it’s a testament to DNA evidence,” said Sacramento County District Attorney Thien Ho.

“This case is a great example of why all law enforcement agencies here today must be willing to work together towards a common goal of protecting our communities and helping victims for all of us,” said FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Mark Remley.

Cummings was arraigned Wednesday on charges of kidnapping, rape, sodomy of an unconscious victim and other charges. He did not enter a plea and is scheduled for another hearing on September 13.

Sacramento Superior Court Commissioner Alin D. Cintean denied bail for Cummings, who is a Liberian citizen, after prosecutors argued he would present a flight risk as well as a risk of injury to the victims.

CNN has reached out to Cummings’ temporarily assigned attorney, Shelby Alberts, for comment on the case.

Genetic genealogy is an emerging field that combines DNA evidence and traditional genealogy to find biological connections between people.

Investigators typically would compare DNA from a crime scene to a suspect’s, or enter it into a national database to try and find a match – but if there’s no match, the perpetrator’s identity might remain unknown.

With genetic genealogy, law enforcement can send the DNA to companies that are able to find extended family members of the perpetrator and build a family tree, allowing investigators to begin zeroing in on suspects.

In recent years, this method has helped solve some of the nation’s most high-profile cold cases, including the one of the notorious Golden State Killer.

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