How a 23&Me DNA test is helping police solve a cold case

When Jacquleine Vadurro did a DNA test, never would she have expected to be a key piece in helping detectives solve a decades old murder.

TikTok app logo is seen in this illustration taken, August 22, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC/ILLUSTRATION/FILE PHOTO)
TikTok app logo is seen in this illustration taken, August 22, 2022.

Jacqueline Vadurro, a content creator on the social media platform TikTok, received a surprising phone call from San Diego detectives last month who informed her that a DNA match had shown that she was a possible relative of a female murder victim from 1986.

Vadurro recounts her interactions with the detectives in a series of videos on her TikTok page.

“I got a “No Caller ID” call on my phone and… it was a homicide detective, cold-case detective, from San Diego, and I was like… ‘oh, no, what did I do?’” Vadurro said in the first video she made on the matter.

The detective explained to her that they thought she was related to a Jane Doe murder victim who had been shot and dumped on a roadside in rural San Diego almost 40 years ago.

Vadurro went on to describe how, although she initially thought the call was a scam, the detectives quickly proved otherwise.

It was then that she decided to aid the investigation in whichever way she could.

 Midtown, San Diego, California (credit: FLICKR) Midtown, San Diego, California (credit: FLICKR)

“Okay, I'm gonna help them out. If I can help them figure out who this Jane Doe is, then I'm going to do it,” she recounts saying. “So… I downloaded my DNA data from 23andme and send it to the detectives.”

Within half an hour of doing so, the detectives called back, according to Vadurro, to thank and inform her that, because of her assistance, they were able to make the biggest breakthrough in the case that they’d had in a year.

As it happened, Vadurro was indeed a DNA match with the victim.

“She was your second or third cousin. Again. We still don't know who she is,” she says the detectives told her. “They think she's an illegitimate child, which is why no one has reported her or anything.”

In order to proceed, however, the detectives need more information. They didn’t for example, know if the victim was related to Vadurro on her mother’s or father’s side. However, shortly thereafter, after her mother had taken a DNA test, the detectives were able to confirm with certainty that the Jane Doe was related to Vadurro’s mother’s side of the family.

Both the victim and Vadurro’s mother have roots in Jalisco, a state located in the western portion of central Mexico.

In the third video installment of Vadurro’s account of her experiences, she reveals that she has a second or third cousin whose DNA helped lead the detective to her. Additionally, there is another individual who is an even closer, “number one” match to the victim.

While the cousin through whom the detectives found Vadurro is not related to the individual who is a “number one match,” Vadurro herself is. In this way, she recounts, she was able to be a missing link in helping the detectives to put together a full picture of the victim’s family background.

“I asked more questions about [the victim] and they said she was just shot once in the chest and that they don't think she was like a hooker or prostitute or anything,” Vadurro says.

Who was the Jane Doe victim?

She goes on to report that the detectives think that the victim’s father was a ‘scoundrel.’

“[A scoundrel is] the name they call these asshole guys that like don't get involved in like their… illegitimate child's life and stuff. So… she came from a scoundrel in my family, apparently. And she might have moved… from Mexico to the United States, and just lost contact with their family. Who knows? But we're going to find that out,” Vadurro says in the TikTok video.

The case is ongoing, but various media outlets have taken an interest in the story. Vadurro reported in a subsequent video that the story had been picked up by the Daily Mail and the New York Post. However, Vadurro has lamented that the attention has brought a lot of negativity as well.

In a recent video posted on Saturday, Vadurro showed some of the comments that she had been getting. Comments labeling her as overweight, unattractive, unintelligent and attention-seeking were all featured.

In response to these comments, Vadurro published another video where she repeatedly affirms that she didn't recount her experiences as a part of the cold-case investigation for self-gratification or to get attention, but rather that it's important to solve cases like these.

It's vital to "bring people to justice, [and] I'm hoping this will give [the victim] her name back," Vadurro said. She also explained that she had been flustered and stressed due to all the attention, both good and bad, that she had been receiving.