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Genetic genealogy shows promise in matching unknown DNA, like that found in Johnny Clarke-Lisa Straub murders

Experts discuss the future of genetic genealogy and its role in solving dormant crimes.

Brian Dugger

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When John Clarke spotted his son motionless on the floor of a Holland home in the early morning hours of Jan. 31, 2011, he went tearing around the side of the house, screaming for his wife, Maytee Clarke, to call 911 and tell them their son was tied up.

Maytee Clarke's call is gut-wrenching, as she screams at the dispatcher that her son is tied up in the basement and he's not moving.

John Clarke kicks in the front door and finds 21-year-old Johnny Clarke and 20-year-old Lisa Straub dead on the kitchen floor, duct tape securing plastic bags over their heads. Lisa's hands are tied behind her with tape. Johnny's feet and hands are secured.

A DNA report provided to the Lucas County sheriff's office on Nov. 30, 2011, gave investigators their first clues into who killed the young couple. The DNA of Samuel Williams was found on a cigarette butt. Williams proclaims his innocence but is serving life without a chance of parole. The DNA of his friend, Cameo Pettaway, was also on that cigarette. Judge James Bates threw Pettaway's case out, however, saying that the cigarette alone was not evidence that Pettaway was involved.

The lab report is riddled with unknown DNA profiles found inside the home. Much of that was on the duct tape restraining Clarke. The profiles were tested against dozens of people, and none of them matched.

It's been more than 10 years with few new clues. At this point, investigators need someone to come forward with the story of what happened. Or, they need a forensic miracle.