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Tips about potential suspects have gone nowhere. A reward has failed to bear fruit, even as it has swelled to over $280,000. And the samples of a stranger’s DNA found on the hands, throat and cellphone of the jogger, Karina Vetrano, 30, did not match those in national offender databases.

But the authorities say that the recovered DNA could hold the key to solving the case if state officials authorize what is called familial searching, which allows investigators to search criminal databases to identify likely relatives of the offender.

The technique, which has been used more than a dozen times in the United States over the last 10 years, represents a frontier in the evolving world of forensic science. While some methods, like microscopic hair testing and bite-mark matching, have been challenged in recent years, DNA testing remains a staple of forensic investigation, used to both identify suspects and exonerate the wrongfully convicted.

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Image: By Zephyris at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5971161

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