Vancouver Police detectives have used new DNA technology to identify a suspect in the 1994 murder of Audrey Hoellein (Frasier).
Hoellein was found by police deceased in her apartment. The investigation revealed that Hoellein was brutally raped and murdered. At the time of her murder, physical evidence including DNA was collected but no matching information was found.
The DNA samples were thereby listed as unknown person; "Individual A". During the course of the initial investigation, several suspects were developed but were eliminated as being the source of the DNA evidence. Over the course of several years, numerous persons of interest were developed and tested against “Individual A” with negative results, as well as the sample being uploaded into CODIS, a national database, with negative.
For the past 25 years the case remained assigned to detectives in the Vancouver Police Major Crime Unit but remained unsolved.
In 2018, Detectives from the Vancouver Police Department Major Crime Unit contacted Parabon NanoLabs and started the process to submit original crime scene DNA to Parabon in June 2018. The first Phenotype/Snapshot report was delivered to the Vancouver Police Department in August 2018 and the Genealogy report was provided in October 2018. Law enforcement agencies across the country use the Parabon’s Snapshot ® DNA Analysis Service to advance investigations when traditional DNA methods fail to produce a match. The newest Snapshot service offering, genetic genealogy , uses advanced DNA testing in combination with innovative genetic analysis, sophisticated identification techniques and traditional genealogical methods to establish the relationship between an individual and his/her ancestors. For forensic investigations, it is used to generate highly informative leads as to the possible identity of an unknown victim or offender.
In the investigation of the rape and murder of Audrey Hoellein (Frasier), Parabon submitted a genetic data profile created from the unknown crime scene DNA sample to a public genetic genealogy database for comparison in hopes of finding individuals who share significant amounts of DNA with the unknown subject. These genetic matches served as clues to inform traditional genealogy research: first, family trees of the matches were constructed back to the set of possible common ancestors using online genealogy databases, newspaper archives, public family trees, obituaries, and other public records, after which descendancy research was employed to enumerate the possible identities of the unknown subject. Other information, such as age, location, triangulation between matches, and/or ancestry and phenotype (trait) predictions, were used to narrow down the possibilities before a final list of leads was produced.
The Vancouver Police Department then used the information on leads produced through the Parabon process to continue the investigation. Abandoned DNA, in the form of a cigarette butt, was obtained from one of the leads and that sample was sent to the Washington State Crime Lab for testing. That testing revealed that the DNA from the abandoned DNA matched the DNA located at the original crime scene for “Individual A”.
On April 28, 2019, Vancouver Police conducted a traffic stop on Richard E. Knapp, 57, of Fairview OR. Knapp was interviewed and subsequently arrested and booked into the Multnomah County Jail.
Knapp has been extradited to Clark County and was booked for Murder I. He is anticipated to make first appearance in Clark County Court on May 1, 2019.
The following is a statement from the Hoellein family:
“This crime not only took away a sister from her two brothers, it left a mother and father without a daughter, and a young child without a mother. Since then the family has grown with nephews that will never meet their aunt, and a grandchild that can only see grandma in pictures, only knowing her from shared memories.
We as a family are grateful for the many detectives that have worked on this case. But, we are extremely grateful for detectives Dustin Goudschaal and Neil Martin. The loss of a loved one is something very tragic for a family. When this loss was at the hands of someone else, the grief is impossible to bare. Many losses have closure at the funeral; in this case the funeral wasn’t enough. Our family was left with so many unknowns, the biggest of these being who did this awful crime. As this case is starting to unfold after almost 25 years, the wound is being re-opened, and our family is experiencing the pain all over again. But, Thanks to detectives Dustin Goudschaal and Neil Martin our family may finally have the opportunity to find closure to our biggest unknown. We hope that the use of this technology can be used to bring closure to more families across the nation”.
Source: Vancouver Police