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Everett Public Library News Release

Posted on: November 14, 2022

Journalist Edward Humes: How DNA Solved a Cold Case Double Murder

Graphic in blues with image of book cover and author and program details.

EVERETT, WA – Pulitzer Prize–winning author and journalist Edward Humes will discuss his new book, “The Forever Witness,” about two killings at the heart of the genetic genealogy revolution, in a virtual program on Tuesday, Nov. 29, at 6 p.m. Sign up or join at

In 1987, a young Canadian couple on an overnight trip to Seattle vanished without a trace. A week later, their bodies were found, one strangled, the other shot. It was a brutal crime and a perfect crime. An international manhunt never found a suspect, and eventually the murders that stunned the Pacific Northwest slipped from the headlines.


Three decades later, a dogged detective revived the case, teaming up with an actress-turned-genealogist to find the killer. They wielded a new forensic tool, built not in police labs but from home DNA tests popular with family tree hobbyists. Could they solve the Pacific Northwest’s most enduring mystery and make history with the first murder trial based on genetic genealogy? And if so, at what cost?


"The Forever Witness" takes readers inside the hidden world of genetic genealogy, where ancestry sleuths can track someone down even if that person’s individual DNA was never tested. No killer can elude this unregulated science — nor anyone else, should it be misused. More than 40 million Americans have blithely made their DNA searchable — for fun — through sites like 23andMe and But how effective are current privacy safeguards once our DNA is out in the world? Can this powerful tool remain a force for good alone? Or does crossing this bridge risk giving up the last vestiges of privacy in the digital age — control over the very blueprint of who we are?


Edward Humes digs into these questions and more in his essential new book about the killings at the heart of the genetic genealogy revolution. Humes, who won the Pulitzer for reporting on the military and a PEN Award for his juvenile court book, “No Matter How Loud I Shout,” has written numerous critically acclaimed nonfiction works. His last, “Burned,” which the Washington Post called “riveting” and “powerful,” helped free a woman in 2021 after she spent decades behind bars because of flawed forensic science.

This program is free and open to the public. Call 425-257-8000 or visit for more information about this or other library programs. 


The Everett Public Library was founded in 1894 by the Everett Woman's Book Club. The historic Main Library was built in 1934 by architect Carl Gould, and the Evergreen Branch opened in 1985. The library’s two branches serve the residents of the City of Everett and nearby locales, circulating over 400,000 items per year and hosting hundreds of programs for children and adults. We connect the community to resources and services that inform, educate, and entertain. For more information about the Everett Public Library, visit




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