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New DNA technology, genealogy research leads to arrest in teen’s 1987 murder

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New DNA technology, genealogy research leads to arrest in teen’s 1987 murder

Photo caption: Stow Municipal Court Judge Lisa Coates talks with James Zastawnik […]. Phil Masturzo/Beacon Journal. Article by Stephanie Warsmith Beacon Journal.

The first step was to separate 17-year-old Barbara Blatnik’s DNA from that of the man who authorities say killed her in 1987 and dumped her body in Cuyahoga Falls. Investigators next entered the suspect’s DNA into genealogy databases, tracking down the man’s distant cousins. They then built family trees, looked for links and narrowed the search to a family with Northeast Ohio ties. This, investigators say, was the process that led to the recent arrest of James E. Zastawnik of Cleveland in Blatnik’s rape and murder decades earlier. […]

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