Clues from genealogy database lead to parents' arrest in child's death
A DNA match from a distant relative has led to the arrest of two parents accused in the death of their child found dead in an abandoned car.
We're learning new details on the science and the behind the scenes moves leading to a major break in a cold case.
in this 2017 case, much is still unknown and many questions need to be answered.
Police say they don't know the baby's name. He's only being called Baby Doe, and they don't know where he was born. The Lucas County Coroner's Office has ruled the cause of death undermined, but police believe the public can fill in some of those blanks.
Baby Doe was found wrapped in a blanket when he was found in an abandoned car on Vaness Drive off Bancroft Street in Toledo. Police had no identification, no parents for this baby, and no idea how he ended up there.
"We kinda were at a zero for quite a while," said Lt. Dan Gerken of the Toledo Police Department.
For clues, the Lucas County prosecutor's office sent a DNA sample to a company called Advance DNA. A company spokesperson says technicians ran the sample through two ancestry/genealogy databases where people send DNA samples and allow law enforcement to use that information.
"We give them the samples, they do their work. They contact us back and say this is what we have, and they hopefully point us in the direction that we need to go," said assistant Lucas County prosecutor Jeff Lingo.
That information of a distant relative led Toledo police to track down both Jenna and Jacob Cisneros, who are parents to three other children.
Police won't get into detail on what the Cisenros told investigators. The couple is charged with involuntary manslaughter and endangering children.
"We've met with the prosecutor’s office and that's where we're at right now. Things may change. We're not done meeting with the prosecutors,” said Gerken.
"It is nice to have the availability of companies like Advance DNA to help assist us getting headed in a direction when we're stymied or stopped," said Lingo.
Police say there's more to be done in this case, and with these arrests, it's hoped more people will come forward with information to put the entire puzzle together.
"You get mixed feelings. You feel bad for everyone involved a little bit. Other kids are involved that you're asking about that the community cares about. We're just going to do our jobs. We're going to plug away and hopefully come to some sort of resolution at the end, whatever that is, is how it works out," said Gerken.
Advance DNA says it only uses companies where the DNA supplier agrees to allow law enforcement to use the genealogy and ancestry information. Police and prosecutors normally have access only to samples of people convicted of crimes. These private databases give them a much larger pool of people to work with.
So what prompted this new move now? Prosecutor Julia Bates said a private organization was trying to bury the baby and give him a proper burial, but because no one knew who the baby was and who the parents were, the county could not simply give the baby over.
That's when Bates asked her staff to try and come up with an ID and some new information.
The Cisneros’ are related to a person who owned the home where the car and baby were found back in 2017, but police do not think home owner had anything to do with the crime or had any knowledge of the baby being placed there.