Solved Using Genetic Genealogy
Two Separate Decades-Old Murder Cases Solved Using Genetic Genealogy
Twenty-seven year old Brynn Rainey was killed in 1977. Her body was found in a shallow grave by passing horseback riders near Stateline Stables in South Lake Tahoe. Sixteen year old Carol Andersen was killed in 1979. Her battered body was found on the side of a road, also in South Lake Tahoe.
Their murders went unsolved for 41 and 39 years, respectively, until the El Dorado County Cold Case Task Force employed Parabon Nanolabs to construct a “family tree” from DNA recovered from a blood stain on Brynn Rainey’s shirt and DNA recovered from Carol Andersen’s body during her autopsy. Using a public DNA database, Parabon was able to build a family tree around the previously unidentified DNA; leading investigators to three deceased brothers who might be the source of the DNA recovered from the crime scenes.
The Task Force collected DNA from the child of one of the brothers, Joseph Holt, as well as DNA from a toothbrush that belonged to Holt. Further DNA testing confirmed that Joseph Holt’s DNA is a match to the DNA found on Brynn Rainey’s shirt and Carol Andersen’s body.
Joseph Holt was born in 1947 and grew up in San Jose, CA. He graduated from Cupertino High School and University of California-Berkley. Holt moved to South Lake Tahoe in 1974 and began a career in real estate. He died in 2014 and was not identified as a suspect until 2018. Holt’s surviving family members had no idea he was a killer and fully cooperated with law enforcement during this investigation.
The families of Brynn Rainey and Carol Andersen are grateful to finally know who took their loved ones so many years ago. They expressed their support for the use of this technology to solve crimes. Both families ask that the public respect their privacy.
The Cold Case Task Force is continuing to investigate whether Joseph Holt is responsible for other unsolved crimes. If you have any information concerning Joseph Holt, or any information concerning any unsolved crime in El Dorado County, please contact the Cold Case Task Force