Episode 332 - Diahan Southard In For David / Idaho Woman On Birth Father Discovery / Archive Lady In Lockdown / CeCe Moore On Latest Episode Of Genetic Detective

podcast episode Jun 14, 2020

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard filling in for David Allen Lambert. Diahan talks about the newfound benefits with the latest edition of Dr. Blaine Bettinger’s Shared cM Project. Next, Fisher and Diahan talk about a great new article on Civil War female spies. Things apparently haven’t changed much in the last hundred years as Fisher shares a story about a California mayor who got in big trouble for not wearing a mask during the Spanish Flu pandemic.

Next, Fisher visits with Beverly Hewett. Ten years ago she learned from her beloved Dad that he was not her biological father. She turned to DNA five years ago, and just this past week her bio-father was identified. She explains what she learned along the way to final achieve “the big reveal.”

Then, Fisher catches up with Melissa Barker, “The Archive Lady” of Houston County, Tennessee. Melissa’s been a busy archivist during the pandemic. She tells us about some great things are awaiting us when we get to the back end of the lockdown at archives everywhere.

CeCe Moore, star of the ABC-TV Series “The Genetic Detective” then talks about the next episode of her show. She calls the featured case her “favorite” because it results in the exoneration of a convicted killer, and the identification of the real killer.

Diahan Southard then returns for Ask Us Anything. Naturally, it’s a question about DNA.

That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!

Transcript of Episode 332

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Diahan Southard

Segment 1 Episode 332

Fisher: And welcome to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. Greta to have you along genies and we have some great guests today. Very excited to talk to, what we call, an ordinary person with an extraordinary find. She is a Pocatello, Idaho resident, up in that neighborhood, Beverly Hewett. She just broke through, found her birth father using DNA. We’re going to talk about the process that she used, how she did it, how she’s feeling about that. The Archive Lady joins us later on in the show, Melissa Barker. And this is an interesting time for archives obviously, with the lockdown going on, so she’s going to fill us in on what is going on in her world and things we might expect when the lockdown eases. We’re going to find, I think, a lot more stuff available, or at least indexed there. CeCe Moore in on later in the show as well talking about her latest episode of her new ABC TV series, The Genetic Detective. And speaking of genetics, I’ve got my good friend Diahan Southard in this week. She is author of Your DNA Guide, The Book, filling in for David Allen Lambert this week. Hi Diahan. How are you?

Diahan: Hi Scott. I’m so excited to be on the first half of this show and talking about all kinds of things with you.

Fisher: Oh, we’re going to hold you over for the last part too, for Ask Us Anything, so we can answer a listener question there as well. So, you don’t escape that easily, just the front end. [Laughs]

Diahan: [Laughs] Perfect.

Fisher: Well, let’s talk about a couple of things here. First of all, as Your DNA Guide, what’s on your mind these days? What are you seeing?

Diahan: Well, I wanted to mention and give a good shout out to the Shared Centimorgan Project. They have that updates. Lots of projects posted on the DNA Painter website, and lots of hands in the kitchen there making that happen, but especially Blaine Bettinger and then he’s turning that over to Johnny Perl, who’s programming it and making it look good on the website so we can access it. And the combination of those two guys this time has just hit a really big homerun for me. There’s so much data involved in analysis that tell stories. I feel that the more access we get to the data, the better we could tell our stories. And with the new update to the show, the Centimorgan Project, you have access to a lot more data, and it’s just been really exciting to look up.

Fisher: Well, and I have had a lot of people asking me about that. The histograms that are up there, those bell curves, they can really help you figure out potentially what the likelihood somebody is of a certain relationship to you among your matches.

Diahan: Exactly. And I found even that the more you have a skill the more you practice the skill, the more you operate, less by, you know, set rules and more according to your gut instincts.

Fisher: Yes.

Diahan: In general, that I think is kind of a definition of an expert, right? You can act on instinct instead of having to research everything all the time. But it’s really helped me to hone my instincts. So, when I see a certain number of shared centimorgans, I have a feel for what kind of relationship that it is, just from sheer experience seeing it so often.

Fisher: Sure.

Diahan: But when I take that number into the Shared Centimorgan Project and I place it on that bell curve, and I can see it, oh yeah it’s in that sweet spot right there in the middle, or it’s on the edge, one way or the other, it really gives me that extra bit of information to feel either very confident moving forward and in a given relationship. Or if I’m on the edges and I can see where it’s at the edge, I can tell myself, wait a second, let’s just take one step back and let’s ask a bigger question. Let’s not ask is this the right relationship, but instead, let’s ask what other relationships could also fit this number?

Fisher: Right.

Diahan: It just got changed, right in the way that you’re thinking about things that help you just cast a broader net sometimes that you don’t get so pigeon-holed in, oh it has to be this.

Fisher: I love the way you’re thinking. You’re absolutely right. And look at how the tools just keep getting better and better. Even if people hadn’t looked at this yet, you can do this on the DNA Painter site, and thanks to Johnny and to Blaine for bringing it to us. It’s just better and better all the time. Well, let’s talk about some Family Histoire News here today Diahan, and this is right up your wheelhouse here, Civil War female spies. And this is a great article that’s being talked about right now and it’s linked to ExtremeGenes.com. Tell us about some of the people on that list.

Diahan: Oh my gosh. I loved this collection. Of course, I love history. I love women in history especially. And I feel like a lot of times we think that this revolution of women in history, standing up for ourselves, making a name for ourselves, having careers has been a somewhat modern invention when it just hasn’t! Women have been doing amazing and powerful things forever and I love these stories of these individual women who stepped up and said, “I can do something here. I have a skill, I have experience, I have a responsibility and I’m going to move forward with it.” The images are very powerful. I love this picture on the article of Rose Greenhow and she’s pictured with her daughter in a prison. I look at her and she’s mothering from prison. [Laughs]

Fisher: I love it. You’ve got to see this story. It’s linked to ExtremeGenes.com. Another story that I got a kick out of too goes back to the pandemic of a century ago. And it’s a story about the mayor of Oakland and back in those days I had no idea that masks were required during the pandemic of 1918 and 1920. But in California it was true and the mayor of Oakland, after things had settled down a little bit, went to Sacramento to try and get something passed on behalf of the city of Oakland. And he was sitting in the hotel lobby where he was staying and he had his mask hanging off the side of his ear when the police came in and said, “Put your mask back on, buddy.” And he did for a moment and then as soon as they turned around, he took it off again and started smoking on his stogie, and he wound up getting arrested and taken to jail, [Laughs] the mayor of Oakland, because he wasn’t wearing his mask. How much have things stayed the same over all these years?

Diahan: Oh, that’s so true. I think some stores in south Florida here have actual guards at the door where you cannot enter without your mask on.

Fisher: [Laughs] Wow! All right Diahan, thank you for coming in and filling in for David. And we’ve got to get you back at the back end for Ask Us Anything, okay?

Diahan: All right Scott, thank you.

Fisher: All right, sounds good. And coming up next, we’re going to talk to a woman from Idaho who recently found out the identity of her birth father. She did some great things on the journey to get to that conclusion. We’ll talk to her about that experience coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 332

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Beverly Hewett

Fisher: Welcome back to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And it’s always fun to talk to what we call “ordinary people with extraordinary finds” just to illustrate the fact that you can do this. You can find your people. You can solve your mysteries. And one of those people is Beverly Hewett. She is in Chubbuck, Idaho. She’s on the line with me right now. And Beverly, let’s just go back 10 years. You got quite a shock 10 years ago, didn’t you?

Beverly: Well, I did. My father called me about a year before he died on the phone and he said, “Bev, I have something to tell you.” And I said, “Okay.” He was pretty serious. And he said, “Well, I’m not your father.”

Fisher: Oh, wow.

Beverly: I said, “Okay.” And he didn’t go into any other detail. And I just went on to say, “But you’re the one who raised me, and you are who I know. So, you’re still my father.” And we didn’t have much more to say at that time, and then we just kind of mulled things over and we continued to talk through the next year and he got ill and died about a year later from cancer. But we still had a great relationship, so there wasn’t a problem. I could tell that he wanted to get that off his chest before he died. He was almost 90 so it was time.

Fisher: Oh boy. Yeah.

Beverly: And my mom, my biological mother, died 20 years before that. So, she never told me. My siblings knew but they were told never to tell me. That mom and dad would tell me when it was time. So, it never came out until 2010.

Fisher: Wow.

Beverly: And that’s where it started.

Fisher: So, at some point you obviously made the decision, you wanted to know who your birth father was. And so when did you finally take your DNA test and who did you test through?

Beverly: Well, I tested about five years later through Ancestry. I made that decision. I’ve been working on my genealogy, my family tree for many years. I got hooked back in college when I took a genealogy class about 48 years ago. I’ve slowly been working on it over the many years so I decided after this I would take the DNA test. They were getting better and I did it through Ancestry. I also had two of my siblings tested. They agreed to be tested. And it did come out that we were half siblings, and had all these other people in there that I could see.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Beverly: And of course, Ancestry has continued to develop and refine the tools and so over the years and time we’ve been able to group and to do the different things. So, it’s been helpful to have been able to sort through okay, these are my mom’s side with my brother and sister, so these are my biological father’s side.

Fisher: Exactly. And that’s the important thing for people to understand or who are trying to do this kind of thing. Whether or not you don’t know who the birth father is, or maybe it’s a grandparent, right? It works the same way. You basically have to eliminate the matches that come up on your DNA test results that come from the lines not associated with that side.

Beverly: Um hmm.

Fisher: And so, you started out beautifully. And then you shared this with me. I thought it was really interesting. I was so impressed. I have to admit Beverly that you had figured out a couple of what they call genetic networks. And for anybody who’s been watching CeCe Moore’s awesome new ABC TV show called Genetic Detectives, she talks about creating genetic networks. And these are people that match each other but don’t necessarily match anybody else amongst your known lines. And you had two of them, which would suggest that you had found your birth father’s father side among the matches, and the birth father’s mother’s side.

Beverly: That’s correct. And that’s how I went and grouped them. I started out, when I started the groupings I just starred all the ones that I knew were not on my mother’s side.

Fisher: Um hmm. Yeah. Because you couldn’t put a name on it to put them in a group, right?

Beverly: Right. And so I just put them as stars. And then I went through and started looking at these trees and the unlinked trees, and the shared matches was a very important part that got me through to figure out that network of which side belonged where. Because my closest matches, they didn’t share any.

Fisher: Right.

Beverly: If you looked at the shared matches between me and that other person. It was like, oh, well, that’s got to be the other side.

Fisher: Yeah, exactly.

Beverly: One side one. So, I marked those in another grouping as “Unknown 1” and “Unknown 2” and just kept going through the rest of my matches then I could start from there.

Fisher: Start to sort them from there. You know, the thing that’s interesting about this is your closes matches were second cousins.

Beverly: Correct.

Fisher: And I think a lot of people feel oh, if I don’t find a half sibling, or I don’t have a half aunt or something like that, that I’m not going to be able to identify who my people are. But it didn’t work that way with you because of the fact that with all the matches you had on your second cousins. That means you would then share great grandparents with those people, right? So, that makes it a little bit easier. You can go through all the shared matches and find out who they have in common on their family trees, and then start to eventually bring those couples forward until you find descendants from each branch that join together, right, that you have a husband and wife somewhere.

Beverly: And that’s exactly what I did with some guidance from you, and that was a wonderful experience as I’m still working through some of those to build that birth father’s family tree so I know where these other matches come from. I don’t feel like I have to go back further than third- fourth cousins on there.

Fisher: Right.

Beverly: But it helps to build that tree and I can say, “Oh, this is how we connect, and through this daughter or this son and their marriages. And using multi sources, Ancestry did a great job with, you know, you have your trees and stuff, but then a lot of them didn’t link or didn’t have trees but you knew they matched through others. So, there are other websites like Family Search that you put in the person’s name back then like the second great grandparents and see if they have any trees that moved you forward through descent.

Fisher: Sure. Yeah.

Beverly: That was very helpful.

Fisher: Yeah. Well, you’ve done an amazing job and this hasn’t even been a week yet. How did your family feel about this? Now, you said your siblings knew that you were not from the same dad. What was their reaction when you told them that you had made this breakthrough?

Beverly: They were just thrilled and were able to find some pictures of my father. These were like school pictures. 

Fisher: Um hmm.

Beverly: And then one of my half brother. And then we looked at the faces and I looked at mine and there was a similarity.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yep.

Beverly: And then one of my children, I was talking with her and telling her about this and sent her the pictures and she sent me a picture back of her son. And you look at her son and my half brother and you think, “Oh.” [Laughs]

Fisher: Very similar aren’t they? Yeah.

Beverly: So, it’s exciting. It’s thrilling. And I’m excited to continue with this and in time, when I’m ready and feel like I have my ducks in a row I will be contacting him and see if he will be willing to do a DNA test so we can confirm all this.  But all the DNA links and the trees match right down to that.

Fisher: Sure. Sure. Well, you know really, I think the DNA test with your half brother would be more for him than for you.

Beverly: Right.

Fisher: Because really, DNA doesn’t lie.

Beverly: Right.

Fisher: And all of the information that’s come together points only to him because he was the only son born to that coupling where the two branches came together. So, that made it really easy. You know, I will tell you again, as I’ve mentioned many times on the show, when people find birth family, they are often nervous about what their reaction will be. But more often than not, I mean by a long way, like 80-90% of the time it’s a very positive experience. And people are fascinated by it and the things they’ve learned, and the things they’ve discovered. I’m sure you’ll get a lot more information about your birth father and his life and what went on there, and about your own origins. Did you find out his occupation? Do you know what he did?

Beverly: I did. We found an obituary for my father, and he was quite prominent back in Virginia. He was a lawyer and so that gave me, because of the obituary, the children and his sisters. And so it made some more connections, and his wife that he married six years after I was born. So, I did, and I know a little bit, and I just continue to work on that and research, and like I said, I’m building my tree and work on documentation until this all makes sense.

Fisher: Sure. Have you started making groups then for the surnames that you learned in the tree? The maternal lines off the grandparents as well?

Beverly: Yes. I have them. And so I’m looking at that as I continue with my matches and so forth on Ancestry. And then my own software program that I use so I’m putting all that in on trees and family group sheets and then I can go down through and look at the descendants and go, ooh, now I can see here’s some second cousins. I knew that.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Beverly: It’s the visual that helps me.

Fisher: Yes. Yeah I do that a lot. I do a lot of just handwritten diagrams sometimes to try to figure it all out. But you know, all the pieces have to fit in exactly right. The distance from your match to the common ancestor has to fit, and then all the other information about who married who and how they all came together. And when it comes together, it’s that “Ah ha!” moment. You sit back and look at it and you go *pfft* there’s not a problem here. And CeCe Moore talks about a lot too, you know, when you come up with an answer, you do want to try to find ways you can disprove what you’ve done. But there was no way to disprove this. It was really thoroughly put together.

Beverly: No. It was really clear, wasn’t it?

Fisher: Yeah. It was very clear. [Laughs] And so how has your husband reacted to this? I know he’s been keeping an eye on you.

Beverly: Yes. He has. And of course he knew because we had talked about it and he was excited for me. It was good and again, we talk about it and I get some counsel. And so we look through things and just talk about how to approach my half siblings and see how that goes, and in time, so it’s all good. Exciting.

Fisher: Yep. When you’re ready to go. Absolutely. You’ll have those answers. You have pictures of yourself that look a lot like your birth father from what you’ve shown me.

Beverly: Yeah.

Fisher: So, congratulations Beverly. That’s great.

Beverly: Thank you.

Fisher: And I think it’s great to talk to people such as yourself so that others who may be going down the same path can get an idea that it’s doable. And you get your DNA in there and learn how to use that as just another piece of the puzzle. The results can be incredible. Thanks so much Bev for coming on. Appreciate it.

Beverly: You’re welcome. Thank you.

Fisher: And still ahead on Extreme Genes, CeCe Moore, star of the ABC series The Genetic Detective talking about her latest episode on the show, which is coming up on Tuesday night. And on the way next we’re going to talk to Melissa Barker, the Archive Lady, what’s going on in her world during the pandemic when we return in five minutes.   

Segment 3 Episode 332

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Melissa Barker

Fisher: Well, I think we’re all wondering what’s going on in different parts of genie land during the pandemic and that’s why I thought maybe it would be a good idea to touch base once again with Melissa Barker, she is “The Archive Lady.” She’s in Houston County, Tennessee. She actually started the archive there, didn’t think she’d like it, and just loves it. Welcome back, Melissa! How are you?

Melissa: I’m doing great Scott. How are you doing?

Fisher: Well, I’m not wearing my mask at home I’ll tell you that much.

Melissa: [Laughs] I understand, but we’ve got to wear those masks every time we’re out, don’t we?

Fisher: Exactly, make sure other people don’t get sick. So, I’ve been thinking about you here lately because you always have these fun stories about these amazing things that come into your archive and the reason about this is of course, because there are archives all over the country and there is I think largely a lack of awareness of what you can find in there relating to your family, relating to your town and your community. Amazing stuff and it’s a great place for you also to contribute some of the things you may have in your home that aren’t going to have a home somewhere down the line. So Melissa, what happens in the archive when everything shut down like this right now?

Melissa: Well, I’ll tell you what, you know the archivists work keeps going. It doesn’t stop. We are either in our facilities still working or we’re working from home. I actually worked from home for three weeks, and what do we do from home? We’re doing a lot of great things that are going to really benefit genealogists and other researchers down the road because we’re indexing, digitizing our records and photographs, and we’re transcribing. We’re making our records better searchable and so I think you’re going to see that in the near future that many archives are going to be adding a ton of stuff to their websites, to their social media pages, and also being much more available to those researchers once you start getting back into those archives.

Fisher: And I would imagine for those of you who actually run an archive, you’re probably more familiar with where things are now right, because it’s always a constant state of chaos as you try to organize that stuff when it comes in, right?

Melissa: Absolutely. I like to say it’s organized chaos. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]

Melissa: We have our inventories. We have our lists and things but this has really given us an opportunity to do some inventory, to look at a lot of our finding- aids. A lot of archivists are redoing or revamping their finding aids. Comparing finding- aids and indexes to the actual collections and making sure everything is there in its proper order. And we’re making discoveries as well. I know that sounds crazy. In the archives how can you discover it again?

Fisher: Right. [Laughs]

Melissa: But many archives have so much that even as archivists we discover things we either forgot we had or knew we had but it was brought in front of our minds. “Hey, I forgot we had this. We need to tell our researchers about it.”

Fisher: Well, and think about local libraries that house a lot of the things that you keep in archives. The ones I’m most familiar with are in New York City. In New York they don’t have any idea of everything they have. In fact, I once found a book from the 1950s that made note of some records that I was interested in finding and it said that it was now in the municipal archives. It had previously been someplace else. So, when I first brought it up they didn’t know about this, but then I presented to them a copy of the page, now they knew they had it and then the search was on and they ultimately found it. Now it’s one of their most treasured record sets for researching New York City firemen. They didn’t even know they had it.

Melissa: And that happens all the time. That’s why it’s very, very important for researchers to continually talk to the archivists where your ancestors lived, where your ancestors records are located, whether it’s a library, an archive, or a museum and ask them, what new records have you processed? What new records have you received as donations? Talk to them about that and see what they have that’s new because maybe it’s new, maybe they just got it, or maybe it’s new that they just found it in their archives sitting on the shelf.

Fisher: Isn’t that funny? [Laughs]

Melissa: [Laughs]

Fisher: Do you sometimes feel like you just want to slap your forehead when you see something like that?

Melissa: Absolutely. Like I said, I’ve been working on different things that we’ve not been able to get to because we have phone calls and emails, and patrons who walk in by the door so those are our first priority. So during this time we’ve been able to do a lot of work on collections that have been sitting and I’ve been just amazed at some of the stuff that we have in our own little archive that now I’m going to be able to share with researchers.

Fisher: You know, I seem to recall that at one time you said to me, when you go meet with an archivist somewhere in your area, ask to see if you can get a tour of the backroom. Describe your backroom and what goes on back there.

Melissa: [Laughs] Yes, I always encourage researchers to ask for that tour because the only way you get to see the vastness of what an archive has, but you also get to see hopefully, some of the workrooms and see what they’re working on currently. And it will give you a better understanding of the fact that it’s not all online and that we really need to be using our archives. So, at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives, we have our backrooms as well, and in those backrooms we have shelves full of boxes that have measured collections, we have vertical files, we have a mat collection. We have a wonderful and ever growing photograph collection. So, knowing what an archive has helps you as a researcher to figure out just what you can ask for and what item they might have for your ancestor.

Fisher: Boy, absolutely. And I would imagine that’s where you’re finding some of the things you didn’t even know you had, right?

Melissa: Absolutely. I was indexing some collections while I was working from home and the information that was in these records was just truly amazing and stuff that goes towards local history but also towards genealogy.

Fisher: So, what are some of the things you’ve found? I mean, you’ve been kind of broad about this, have you found anything interesting lately? You always seem to find like a can-opener from 1885 or somebody’s family bible from 1910. What’s the latest?

Melissa: Well, the latest is that I took on a couple of projects of indexing. And one of the things that I did on index are county warrants. For people who don’t know what a county warrant or a warrant is, it’s just like a check. If you were to write a check and way back when we used to write checks, we would have a check stub that would stay on our little check register. So that’s what these are, little check stubs that were in a register but they were dated from 1871 to 1878.

Fisher: Oh, wow.

Melissa: And these are the very first checks that were written when our county was formed, on January the 21st, 1871. So it has check stubs paying people to build the first courthouse, to build the first jail, to do the survey of the county boundary lines. So, that kind of goes towards our local history, but as far as genealogy is concerned what I found, which was amazing to me, is that I always knew that there were paupers. But these checks have shown counties paying and providing and helping our local paupers by giving them money to live on. So that’s in there. But then you also have where they’re paying local mercantile that were also provided caskets. They paid for caskets when those paupers passed away. They paid for funeral clothes, for their burial, and it gives the name of the pauper. So, if you have poor ancestors and we think there are no records out there for these people. These are wonderful records that we’re going to be able to provide to researchers to show them, look, your ancestor did have a record even though they were poor.

Fisher: Boy, that’s a great find. That had to be a thrill. Do you wind up trying to track down sometimes people who are related to the people that you discover in the records?

Melissa: Yes. That’s one of the things that archivists run into all the time, as we’re working with these records you can’t but want to stop and research some of these people, wanting to know their story. So yeah, we do. We stop. I’ve done a little bit of research on some and trying to find descendants because I know a lot of the people around here they’ve researched some of these names. So, I’ve been able to share with them some of our finds in these county warrants. So, that’s why it’s always fun to stop and do that research.

Fisher: You know, you’re just hitting it right on the head for me because I’m telling people all the time, don’t limit yourself by thinking everything is online. It is so far from everything online that you need to go to these archives, these local libraries, these different repositories and see what they’ve got there. And you might be amazed that you’re going to find the key to the vault, the information that you’ve been looking for in a place you never expected to find it. So Melissa, thank you so much for coming on. She is The Archive Lady in Houston County, Tennessee. Thanks so much again for coming on.

Melissa: Thank you so much Scott, for having me.

Fisher: And coming up next, CeCe Moore is back, talking about her new ABC TV series, The Genetic Detective. She’ll fill us in on the next episode of the show, when we return in three minutes Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 332

Host: Scott Fisher with guest CeCe Moore

Fisher: You know, it is not very often that one of us genies actually winds up with a network television show, but CeCe Moore has done it. She is the star now of the ABC TV series, The Genetic Detective. And Episode 3 is coming up this week on ABC, its Tuesday nights happening at 10 O'clock Eastern and Pacific, 9 O'clock Central and Mountain Time. And CeCe Moore's on the phone with me right now. Hello my friend. How are you?

CeCe: Great! How are you doing?

Fisher: You know, couldn't be better. It’s great to talk to you and to be catching up on these episodes, because these are some of the cases that we've talked about on Extreme Genes over the last two years and it’s amazing to actually watch how they came together. How are you feeling about it?

CeCe: You know, I'm really excited for this episode. It is really important to me. All the cases are, but in this one, we actually were able to exonerate somebody.

Fisher: Oh wow!

CeCe: And that was a first.

Fisher: Yeah.

CeCe: That was the first time that someone had been convicted of a crime and we were able to clear their name and they have an official exoneration and have that murder conviction overturned, so that's huge.

Fisher: And that was in Idaho, right? That's in Idaho?

CeCe: Yeah.

Fisher: Um hmm.

CeCe: Yeah, so this is the Angie Dodge rape and homicide case out of Idaho Falls. And a man named Christopher Tapp had been convicted of her rape and murder, and his DNA did not match the crime scene DNA sample. And so, there was always some question of whether he was guilty or not. And he was very young when he was questioned and had ended up confessing to the crimes and it turned out to be a wrongful confession, which does happen, especially with young people under pressure like that. And so that made this even more impactful, because it’s not just about putting people behind bars, it’s also about clearing people's name.

Fisher: Sure.

CeCe: And usually that happens behind the scenes. This was very public and you could actually see the impact that it has on Christopher's life.

Fisher: So, for you, I mean we've talked many times over the last couple of years about these various cases and how satisfying it is for you to identify a perpetrator of a terrible crime. This has got to be at a different level.

CeCe: You know, it is, because to help clear someone's name is pure joy.

Fisher: Yeah.

CeCe: When I help to identify someone who's going to be arrested, it’s bitter sweet. I feel for the families on both sides. I want justice served, but I'm certainly also aware of the potential negative impact it could have on the suspect's family. I mean, imagine being a child of one of these people who is suddenly revealed to have committed these horrific murders and rapes decades ago.

Fisher: Sure.

CeCe: It must really shake your world. It’s a horrible thing. But with exoneration, it’s all good.

Fisher: Yeah.

CeCe: You know, there's no downside to helping to clear the name of someone who's been wrongly convicted. And so, it’s just so much joy and I think really the highlight of my entire career, and that's hard to say, because I've had a lot of great highlights in my career. But I think that was the pinnacle, being at that press conference in Idaho Falls a year ago and seeing the joy of Christopher Tapp and his family.

Fisher: And we should say also to all of you genies who have opted in to GEDmatch to help CeCe to do this thing, way to go! [Laughs] Look what your work has done!

CeCe: Absolutely!

Fisher: Right?

CeCe: And this one was a tough case. We needed all those matches. This case took a lot of matches to get to the final, you know, identification of that crime scene DNA. And so, if people are watching the series, this is the one I hope they will watch. Please watch this episode, because it really does show the good that can come from investigative genetic genealogy in a more complex way.

Fisher: She's CeCe Moore, star of The Genetic Detective on ABC, Tuesday night’s 10 O'clock Eastern and Pacific time, 9 O'clock Central and Mountain. CeCe, always great to talk to you. And we look forward to chatting again next week about the next episode.

CeCe: All right. I look forward to it as well.

Fisher: And coming up next, Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide returns for David Allen Lambert for another round of Ask Us Anything when we return to Extreme Genes in three minutes.

Segment 5 Episode 332

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Diahan Southard

Fisher: All right, back at it for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. David's off this week. And Diahan Southard, your DNA guide is in today. And Diahan, we have a question here from Chip in San Francesco and he is asking, "Hey guys. What is that new little symbol next to my DNA match names?" That is a perfect question for you, Diahan.

Diahan: Well Chip, it’s an organization tool actually, to help you keep track of the matches you've already identified belonging somewhere in your family tree. So, I know most people can come to their DNA match page and maybe all those first cousins, well, you know who they are, so maybe you don't need to keep track of them.

Fisher: Right.

Diahan: But as you dig deeper into your results, you identify third cousins and you don't remember them by name. So this is a way where you can actually connect your DNA match with your family tree. So by clicking on that button, you are then asked okay, who is this person in your family tree.

Fisher: Ooh.

Diahan: So the key is, you have to ask to put the person in your tree. So, if this is your third cousin, then you need to actually draw out in your tree how they're related to your family, put their name in your tree and then you're just telling the system, these two people are the same.

Fisher: And I'm assuming Diahan that if somebody's using a handle, this is a great thing to do, because if you figure out who they are, then you can put them in the tree and then you don't have to decipher who that person is just through your notes all the time.

Diahan: Absolutely, absolutely. So, it’s just, it makes it so simple, because later on, you just click that button and it shows you exactly how you're related and it refreshes your memory right away and you say, "Okay, that's right. This is that person."

Fisher: So you would have to actually have to do the reverse genealogy to make sure that all the links are in the tree. Would it do it if that isn't there or make them float around? [Laughs] Not connected to anybody.

Diahan: Nope. I mean, you can, I guess, yes. Any person you put in your tree, no matter where you put them, you can them attach to your DNA match. But the value really is in a descendancy worth. There is so much value in that. And so, I think it’s just one more way to encourage you to do that actual descendancy research that you can pull their line all the way down to them and then attach them to their tree exactly where they go.

Fisher: You know, descendancy research is so valuable and not just for DNA, but just for locating people who might have information or photographs or documents or stories or whatever it is. I first did this in the late '80s and there really wasn't a genealogy community at that time. There were, you know, a handful of experts out there you could write to and certain organizations, but I remember when I did it, and I located third cousins in different parts of the country and they shared with me things that I treasure to this day, because they were so rare and I had no idea that 20-25 years later these descendancy charts that I had put together, because once I realized you could do this and it would pay off in such a big way, I did this for all of my second greats and my third greats and pulled them forward. And then when DNA came along, it was like, "Oh, well, I know who that person is. I know where that one fits in." it was really easy. And so, the beauty of it now is, it’s a lot easier to do descendancy research than it was back then, because everything is so connected and you get your shaky leaves and you get your hints on Family Search and other places, and it’s fun!

Diahan: It is fun and so valuable. I'm glad you’ve seen such a strong payoff, because I see it every day and I think it’s my number 1 tip, just do descendancy research.

Fisher: Do descendancy research, then when your golden key match comes along, you'll have some idea where they fit in, and that can make all the difference in the world in achieving your genetic genealogy goals. Diahan, thanks for filling in for David this week. It was great to have you on. Of course, she is the author of Your DNA Guide, The Book. And Diahan, where can people get it?

Diahan: You can find it on my website at YourDNAGuide.com.

Fisher: Perfect. Thanks so much.

Diahan: Thanks, Scott.

Fisher: Well, there you go! That's our show for this week. Thanks once again to Diahan Southard, to CeCe Moore, to Beverly Hewett, to Melissa Barker the Archive Lady. It’s a star studded show. If you missed any of it, of course you can catch the podcast on Extreme Genes, iTunes, iHeartRadio, TuneIn Radio and Spotify. We're always there for you. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!


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