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DNA fingerprinting brought a revolution in criminal investigations by giving law enforcement officers a reliable tool for linking crimes to known suspects or to individuals listed in criminal databases. But imagine if DNA could also be used to generate a police sketch that would guide officers to the guilty party even if he (or she) wasn’t a suspect and had no criminal record.

It sounds like science fiction, but this futuristic-sounding forensic method is already becoming a reality. Called DNA phenotyping, the technique involves using DNA from a crime scene to determine a mystery person’s physical characteristics, including skin pigmentation and hair and eye color.

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