Have you seen The Genetic Detective TV show on ABC? Renowned investigative genetic genealogist CeCe Moore and her team at Parabon NanoLabs reveal how she uses crime scene DNA, state-of-the-art technologies, and genetic genealogy tracking skills to help dedicated law enforcement detectives solve specific cold cases. It airs on Tuesdays from 10 to 11 p.m. ET (watch the first episode for free on ABC.com, and then watch via your participating cable or streaming service).

While the techniques CeCe is using are helping solve cold cases, the principles behind her work can impact your own family history research. Would you like to adapt some of CeCe’s techniques and strategies to your personal genetic genealogy mysteries? We offer some tips below for individual episodes of The Genetic Detective.

The Case of the Missing Lovebirds

CASE SUMMARY: Moore works with Seattle’s Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office on the double homicide of a young couple.


“Hope is the mother of all men.” – Retired Snohomish County Sheriff Rick Bart (this appears to be quoting a line from the 1951 movie Halls of Montezuma)

Learn how techniques from this episode may help your DNA testing journey for family history:

Hunt for the Runaway Killer

CASE SUMMARY: Cece Moore helps crack a 1998 cold case involving the murder of Sherri and Megan Scherer, a mother and daughter from New Madrid, MO.


“DNA doesn’t lie, but you have to figure out what it is telling you.”

“We don’t ever want to forget the human side of this work.”
– CeCe Moore

Learn how techniques from this episode may help your DNA testing journey for family history:

Who Killed Angie Dodge?

CASE SUMMARY: CeCe Moore’s work on the 1996 murder of an 18-year old in Idaho leads police to the potential killer.


“Never before had genetic genealogy given me the wrong answer.” – CeCe Moore

“Not everything is digitized!” -CeCe Moore

Learn more about how techniques from this episode may help your DNA testing journey for family history:

The Deadly Playdate

CASE SUMMARY: Uncovering the identity of the person who killed an 8-year-old girl in Fort Wayne, IN.


“She (April) is not here. So I need to stand up for her.” – April’s cousin

In this episode, CeCe talks about doing “brute force genealogy,” meaning serious paper-trail research. We’ve got an entire Family Tree Basics series on our blog. Get started with these articles:

The Phantom of Ramsey Street

CASE SUMMARY: CeCe Moore helps uncover the identity of a serial rapist through genetic genealogy.


“I can start over and become the person I should have been.” Kobi Haschen, rape survivor

All of the perpetrator’s close matches were descendants of a couple who had siblings who married each other. That can cause confusion on a genetic tree, when you’re expecting two neatly divided branches in every generation. Instead, they overlap and repeat on multiple lines. When this happens, it’s called pedigree collapse. It’s not uncommon, and you can calculate its effects in your own tree.