© 2021 WKSU
Public Radio News for Northeast Ohio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

State Crime Lab Uses New Technology to Identify a Kidnap and Rape Suspect

photo of Justin Christian
Authorities used a "familial DNA search" to identify Justin Christian as the suspect.

Police have arrested a suspect in the kidnapping and attempted abduction of two Northeast Ohio girls this year, an arrest that began with a new technology used by the state crime lab to  help identify 29-year-old Justin Christian.

City and county law enforcement had exhausted all of their leads in the case when Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine agreed to try software the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation had never used on an active case before -- “familial DNA search.”

“This DNA identifies someone with a genetic near match to the person who actually committed the crime.  Could be a brother, father, or son.” 

DeWine says the software uses DNA evidence to narrow down a suspect’s male family members to 200 possible matches within the state’s DNA database.  Then Y chromosome testing helps further narrow down the possible relatives.

“That’s still just a potential relative of the person who committed the crime.  It doesn’t mean it’s actually a relative.  But it does mean there’s a high probability this person is related to the person who committed the crime.” 

Further detective work led investigators to Justin Christian – a Lorain County resident with familial connections near the homes of both victims.  He’s accused of attempting to abduct a 10-year-old Elyria girl in February and kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 6-year-old Cleveland girl in May.