DNA Evidence Links Murder Case With Mayflower-Era Family

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King County Sheriff's Office

Sketches of the possible suspect, drawn over the years since the crime was first reported.

Forgive Seattle-area sheriff’s deputies if they spend a little time in the history books these days. Or start asking a lot of questions about a 17th-century Massachusetts family.

As deputies work to solve a 20-year-old Federal Way, Wash., murder, DNA has linked the suspect all the way back to the family of Robert Fuller, who was related to two people who came to the U.S. on the Mayflower. Unfortunately for law enforcement officials, Fuller first settled in Salem, Mass., in 1630. With no forwarding address to work from, the latest information does at least give police a new starting point in a case they reopened in 2009, something they welcome at this point.

In December, a crime-scene DNA sample from the murder of 16-year-old Sarah Yarborough was sent to DNA expert Colleen Fitzpatrick. She compared the sample to genealogy databases and concluded the closest match came from the Fuller family, who now likely has thousands of descendants. But since the DNA match lines up with male descendants, there still remains some hope that the suspect’s last name is still Fuller, a fact the King County Sheriff’s Office revealed this week.

Using eyewitnesses from the high-school campus killing in December 1991, officials had labeled the suspect as a white male in his 20s, standing about 6 feet tall. Armed previously with just two composite sketches of the suspect, complete with his shoulder-length blond hair, can police put a name to the face? If the name is Fuller, they have a head start.

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