Unsolved: Using genealogy to unlock series of murders, rapes in Brockton

BROCKTON, Mass. — For years, a killer and rapist has been on the prowl in Brockton, preying on women.

The suspect's own DNA is telling authorities much about the case: that he has murdered two women, and beaten and raped three others.

That's five victims and investigators believe there could be more.

Thanks to cutting-edge analysis by Parabon NanoLabs in Reston, VA, the DNA is also telling authorities the suspect was in his mid-twenties at the time of the crimes, of African ancestry, with brown eyes, brown hair, few, if any freckles, and a light skin complexion.

All five of the victims in this case were women who battled drug abuse and have arrests for prostitution.

The rape victims told police they were picked up in Brockton by a man driving a dark car and taken outside the city.

The ordeal lasted for hours, with the suspect beating his victims and raping them, before dropping them off far away from Brockton.

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One of the victims was found in Randoph.

Two other women did not survive.

Their bodies were found in 2014, almost on top of each other, in a wooded area near the Brockton VFW.

Ashley Mylett, 20, was dismembered.

And near Ashley's body, authorities found the badly decomposed remains of Linda Shufeldt, 50, of Quincy.

Any criminologist will tell you, crimes like these, where there is no connection between the suspect and the victims, are among the most difficult to solve.

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But the Plymouth County District Attorney and Massachusetts State Police are not throwing in the towel on these women.

If anything, they are taking this investigation to the next level.

Recently, District Attorney Timothy Cruz signed a new contract with Parabon NanoLabs, the same company that produced a DNA-based digital composite of the killer, to now look at the suspect's genealogy through his own DNA.

Earlier this year, California police made international headlines when they arrested former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo in the Golden State Killer case. That case includes 13 murders, more than 50 rapes, and more than 100 burglaries from 1974 to 1986.

The break in the Golden State Killer case came when investigators uploaded the killer's DNA to GEDMATCH, a personal DNA database, and found relatives. From there, they used genealogy to build family trees and that led them to DeAngelo.

Parabon NanoLabs is now using that same technology in the hopes that it could lead police towards the Brockton rapist/killer.

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In an exclusive interview with Cruz, he told New England's Unsolved's Bob Ward, 
"Science continues to grow. Science gives us opportunities we didn't have five years, ten years ago. We have an obligation to use science, the enhanced DNA capabilities, to make sure we do everything that we can, to make sure we get people who are hurting other people, off the streets."

Mark Mylett, Sr, helped raised Brockton murder victim Ashley Mylett, his granddaughter. He is still heartbroken about Ashley's death and hopes this new use of DNA technology will find her killer.

"If love could have saved her, nothing would have ever happened to her," Mylett told Ward. "I mean she was loved by everybody."

If you know anything about the identity of the Brockton killer/rapist, you are urged to contact the Mass State Police at (508) 894-2584.

RELATED: Advances in DNA technology led to breakthrough in 1969 cold case

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