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The Genetic Detective

The Genetic Detective

Photo Credit:  ABC
  • Premiered: 
    May 26, 2020
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: ABC
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter: Crime
  • Tags: science, genetics

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Plot Synopsis

THE GENETIC DETECTIVE is a one-hour docuseries that follows investigative genetic genealogist CeCe Moore as she uses her unique research skills to transform the face of crime solving. By working with police departments and crime scene DNA, Moore traces the path of a violent criminal's family tree to reveal their identity and help bring them to justice. For the past decade, Moore, a self-trained genetic genealogist, has pioneered genetic genealogy techniques utilizing a growing body of genetic data in conjunction with traditional genealogical records to help adoptees find their birth parents and to solve family mysteries. Since 2018, Moore has used her unique research skills to transform the face of crime solving, helping to identify more than 100 violent criminal suspects.

In the series opener, "The Case of the Missing Lovebirds," Moore works with Seattle's Snohomish County Sheriff's Office and takes on her first-ever cold case as a genetic genealogist -- the double homicide of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg. The young couple disappeared in 1987 after taking a ferry from Vancouver to Seattle and were later found miles apart, gagged, bound and brutally murdered. With a smattering of clues, but no real leads, the case was cold for 30 years. The episode includes interviews with Jay's parents, Gordon and Leona Cook; Tanya's brother, John Van Cuylenborg; Snohomish County law enforcement retired Sheriff Rick Bart and Detective Jim Scharf; and radio reporter Hanna Scott.

Later in the first season, THE GENETIC DETECTIVE also examines the murder of 8-year-old April Tinsley with Indiana's Fort Wayne Police Department; the double homicide of mother and daughter Sherri and Megan Scherer with the New Madrid County Sheriff's Department in Missouri as well as the murder of Genevieve Zitricki with the Greenville Police Department in South Carolina; the 1996 murder of Angie Dodge with Idaho Falls Police Department in Idaho; the Ramsey Street Rapist with North Carolina's Fayetteville Police Department; and the 2018 rape of 79-year-old Carla Brooks with Utah's St. George Police Department.
On Tuesday, June 30, 2020 at 10pm ET/PT, ABC premiered "The Hot Case," the season finale of THE GENETIC DETECTIVE. Investigative genetic genealogist CeCe Moore gets an urgent email from a St. George, Utah, detective asking her to work her first-ever "hot" case -- the rape of a 79-year-old woman that happened just three weeks prior. CeCe gets to work, knowing the rapist could easily strike again. During this episode, CeCe also sees the first jury trial conviction from a case on which she worked -- the suspect identified in the murder of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg from the series premiere. Interviews featured in the episode include victim and activist Carla Brooks, St. George Police Department's Detective Josh Wilson and reporter Jessica Miller.


Production & Distribution

  • Produced by ABC News
  • Produced by XCON Productions