DNA under Fingernails Lead to Arrest in Decades-Old Cold Case


Every week seems to bring a new story of how advances in forensic technology are bringing closure to cold cases that had been held in police files without leads for ten years, twenty years, or longer.  The scientific community and law enforcement are working together to bring closure to families who just a few years ago may have thought the ability to find justice for a loved one seemed nearly impossible.

In Santa Clara County, California, the decades-old murder investigation of 21-year-old Saba Girmai reached an important moment this week when a convicted offender was arrested for strangling the young woman and leaving her body in a dumpster back in 1985.

The DNA of Daniel Garcia was found under the fingernails of Ms. Girmai using technology that was not available nearly thirty years ago when she was murdered.  It wasn’t until 2010 that a DNA profile was created from the material in her fingernails, and it was the following year that Mr. Garcia was determined to be a match.  An active investigation followed and, a day after he was questioned about his involvement in the attack, Garcia was arrested on murder charges.

clip_image001In defending herself and fighting for her life, Saba Girmai was able to collect the evidence that appears will put Daniel Garcia behind bars for murder.  Also, local law enforcement must be commended for their realization that someday the evidence they gathered may be used in ways of which they only could dream in 1985.  These investigators, and those like them around the country who meticulously maintain crime scene materials, have made a huge difference to many families.

While I hate that such efforts are even necessary, it always is amazing to me to read about the perseverance and dedication that police officers have to tracking down criminals, no matter how many years later.  As is mentioned in one of the articles I reviewed, murder victims are never forgotten by police.  As the amazing research in our country continues to progress, I hope that even more victims of crime like Saba Girmai are able to use science to find justice.

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