Genealogy brings new twist to cold case murder of Fed Way teen

Genealogy brings new twist to cold case murder of Fed Way teen
SEATTLE -- A science designed to help people trace their ancestry may help police crack a 20-year old cold case.

Sarah Yarborough was just 16 when she was murdered 20 years ago. She was found strangled near the track where the dance team was to meet that December day.

Police have two sketches of a suspect. Now, a forensic genealogist asked to test DNA has a name.

"To a high degree of probability, his last name is Fuller. And that's what I can tell you," said forensic genealogist Dr. Colleen Fitzpatrick.

"The suspect DNA is related to the family of Robert Fuller, who is also related to some Fullers, who came over on the Mayflower," said Det. Jim Allen of the King County Sheriff's Office.

The Mayflower arrived in 1620. Robert Fuller came to Salem, Massachusetts in 1630. How can this be valid?

The name came as a result of forensic genealogy, which is used to build family trees. It's a science based on DNA and family history based on the male Y chromosome. So if DNA yields an old match, the odds are the last name today will be the same.

Detectives now hope the name "Fuller" will jog some memories and help find the killer.

The victim's family welcomes the possibility.

"I think as a family we felt it was going to come down to science, making a difference, DNA," said family spokesperson Andrew Yarborough. "That's the most concrete evidence we have in this case."

When police searched near the track at Federal Way High School 20 years ago, it was the first year Lisa Griebel taught in the district. Now she's the principal of the school where the victim was a sophomore 20 years ago.

"I'm not surprised," she said of the new development in the case. "With advances in science, you would think they can solve this case."

Every year, incoming students are briefed on the Yarborough murder. Next year, school officials would like to be able to tell those incoming students that the case has been solved.

Anyone with information about the killing is asked to contact the King County Sheriff's Office at 206-296-3311.