Genealogy matching used to make first arrest of its kind in New Mexico

Crime

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An arrest has been made in a four-year-old cold case in Albuquerque, thanks to genealogy matching DNA taken after a crime, to DNA submitted by family members to an ancestry tracking company.

Angel Gurule, 23, is accused of raping a woman on a trail more than four years ago. Thursday, the Bernalillo County District Attorney says he’s hopeful this new investigative approach is the start of cracking more cold cases.

“There was DNA recovered from the scene, there was a description of the offender turned in to law enforcement,” District Attorney Raul Torrez said at a news conference Thursday.

According to court documents, on Christmas Eve 2015, Gurule tackled and sexually assaulted a jogger on a trail along the Rio Grande near Rio Bravo. The victim then went to the Rape Crisis Center and went through a sexual assault examination.

The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office opened an investigation but had no leads for years because no suspects ever showed up in the government database, known as CODIS, that contains DNA from convicted felons. That was until the DA’s office got a federal grant last summer to use what’s called DNA genealogy technology that dives into a bigger system of DNA from ancestry sites like “23 and Me.”

Then, finally, in November of last year, Gurule was identified as a potential suspect in the rape after investigators found distant family members of his through an ancestry kit. Investigators tracked him down to Kaseman Hospital where he was visiting his wife.

When the couple left, investigators grabbed Gurule’s styrofoam cup to test his DNA, and it was a match. The sheriff’s office arrested Gurule on Wednesday at his home just about a mile from where the attack happened.

“He admitted to it. We even took him out to the actual trail and he walked us through where he saw the victim, where he attacked her,” lead investigator Kyle Hartsock said.

At the time of the incident, Gurule was 19 and a recent graduate of Sandia High School where he was on the cross country team.

Gurule is also named as a suspect in the sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl in a separate case that happened just three months before the other rape. KRQE News 13 asked the DA’s office about that case and whether anyone dropped the ball, but did not receive a response.

Thursday, a judge ordered Gurule to stay behind bars for now on a no-bond hold.

The DA’s office says it will be asking state lawmakers for funding so they can help crack more cold cases with this genealogy testing. The labwork alone, in this case, cost $7,000.

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