Speaking with law enforcement officials last month, I got the impression that they weren’t too impressed with the DNA testing services offered by the various groups that advertise on television, at least surrounding the television shows I watch.
(And if marketing geniuses can determine what ads to place based on certain programming, man, I have some real troubles with my body that probably need some attention; I’ll have to have this conversation in a month or so when I visit Dr. Tom Miller for my annual physical.)
So, I was talking with Steuben County Coroner Bill Harter and Steuben Sheriff’s Detective Chris Emerick about a breakthrough they had with the case of an unidentified corpse that had been found on a farm property some 20 years ago.
We were talking about the case of a body found Sept. 6, 1999, by Dr. M.G. “Doc” Headley on his farm northeast of Angola. They have developed leads that might provide an identity of the woman.
“The phone started ringing a couple weeks ago and here we are,” said Harter said at the time, mid-August.
“You go through (the case) once a year and finally we got something,” Emerick said.
Through DNA matching and extraction it is possible that some family members have been located, Harter said.
The DNA that might provide a family member’s match is through an ancestry tracing company, Harter said.
So, I got to talking about the DNA offers you find on television or through email solicitations. Harter sort of smiles, the way he does, when he’s casting doubt or about to laugh heartedly.
When you think about it, it makes sense. The lab work the county was doing, DNA lab work, was going to cost in the range of $3,500. The DNA work that they offer on TV you can get for about 60 bucks.
At least the one that I did cost that.
My DNA test was given to me as a Father’s Day gift. And as you might be well aware, you basically take a cotton swab and rub one side of the inside of your mouth and put it in a vial and seal it up, then do the same with the other side of your mouth, drop it in a special padded envelope and ship it off to some place in Texas or New Jersey or something.
They must have a bunch of people who do this because it took something like eight weeks to finally get my results back. Unlike one of the ad campaigns, my results are not going to make me go out and change my wardrobe because my heritage has been revealed to be something it previously was not imagined.
Although I could go out and start wearing, say, the clothing of a gondolier from Venice, Italy, seeing that my Italian heritage was confirmed.
Of course, the world being the melting pot that it is, it was interesting to see the mix of ethnicity goo that makes me me.
So, in case the suspense is killing you, here I am:
• Italian, 38.0 percent (Dad, Anthony Marturello)
• Irish, Scottish and Welsh, 31.8 percent (Mom, Doris Pitney Marturello)
• East European, 13.2 percent (probably Dad)
• West Asian, 7.1 percent (don’t know)
• Other, 9.9 percent — 6.1 percent North African, 3.8 percent Ashkenazi Jewish (hmm)
With this information, the company provided family tree links, people they think I am related to. Pages upon pages of this. Prior to determining my makeup, the company started sending me public records they had discovered about me, which mainly consisted of high school yearbook photos. They must not use Google.
If I started clicking on these various links, of course it took me to a site where I could get more information with a click and a credit card. Same thing when I got my results; there were more clicks and ads so I could spend more money with this company.
Now I know why Bill Harter was smiling.