New face on a cold case in Virginia Beach

Picture of suspect was created by analysis of DNA left at scene

This rendering of a suspect was created by Parabon Nanolabs using DNA from a sexual assault that happened in 2012 (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of the Virginia Beach Police Department)
This rendering of a suspect was created by Parabon Nanolabs using DNA from a sexual assault case in 2012 (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of the Virginia Beach Police Department)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Police say a woman was attacked from behind and sexually assaulted by an unidentified man in the 900 block of Sedley Road of Virginia Beach on the morning of March 13, 2012.

No leads were developed and the case eventually went cold.

But on Wednesday, detectives at the Virginia Beach Police Department released a composite sketch of what they think the suspect may look like.

And they did it all using the suspect’s DNA left at the scene, according to police. The DNA did not match with any in the National DNA Database.

The woman described the suspect as a black man, slender build and around 6 feet tall.

Police Det. Lanis Geluso has been the lead officer on the case since it was opened. Police partnered with Parabon NanoLabs to examine the DNA left at the crime scene to determine the suspect’s appearance. The composite provides the skin, hair and eye color, as well as facial bone structure of the suspect.

During a news conference at police headquarters Wednesday, the director of bioinformatics at Parabon, Ellen Greytak, answered questions about the technology via Skype from Reston.

Virginia Beach Police Detective Lanis Geluso discussing the rendering of a suspect that completely generated using only his DNA (Joshua Weinstein/Southside Daily)
Virginia Beach Police Detective Lanis Geluso discussing the rendering of a suspect that was generated using only his DNA (Southside Daily)

“Whenever we produce a prediction, you will see that they all come with a ‘confidence’ statement,” Greytak said. “Those percentages of confidence are based on the accuracy of predictions that Parabon has done.”

One of the downsides is that one’s age is not written on a DNA sequence, and so the composite sketches do not communicate that information. However, in this particular case, the woman noted that the suspect sounded like a teenager at the time, and so the composite sketch was able to display a 25 year-old man.

Greytak said the company has worked on 150 to 200 cases, and out of those composites that were shared with the public, about 20 percent have led to arrests. The lab analysis takes about four days, with computers needing 24 hours to “crunch the numbers.”

Anyone with information about the incident can anonymously contact Virginia Beach Crime Solvers at 888-LOCK-U-UP.

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