California Cold Case: DNA identified the victim through genetic genealogy in Decades-Old Murders


Investigators extensively utilized publicly searchable genealogy websites and cross-referenced census records and obituaries to trace possible relatives. Their diligent research ultimately led them to Powers’ daughters, sister, and mother. 

The emotional impact of the identification was profound, since Powers’ daughters, who were toddlers when she disappeared believed that their mother had abandoned them.

This case marks the seventh instance in which the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office has successfully used investigative genetic genealogy to identify remains in unsolved cases. 

The department emphasizes that this DNA tracking method is only employed when all other avenues have been exhausted. Detectives reach out to relatives for assistance, ensuring transparency about the process and the case they are investigating.

A cold case heats up

Claudette Powers, originally from Michigan, relocated to San Diego County in 1983 or 1984. Authorities believe she may have lived in the San Diego or Escondido area, specifically around Fig Street in Escondido, where she might have worked at a nearby restaurant.