Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
In January 2017, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s detectives ran DNA gathered from a rape kit through the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), which collects DNA from convicted felons and some arrestees. There were no matches.
So, one night in June 2019, the Crime Strategies Unit with the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office created a profile on GEDmatch and uploaded a genetic file of that suspect’s DNA. Agents checked the box saying the sample was for law enforcement and confirmed that the case involved a violent crime.
By the morning they had received the first round of results, said Kyle Hartsock, the special agent in charge of the CSU.
Basically, here’s how it works: The test counts a unit of measurement used in genetics called a centimorgan. Parents share about half – 3,400 – of their centimorgans with their offspring. Grandparents share about 25% – 1,700 centimorgans – with their grandchildren. The numbers get smaller from there.
In this case, Hartsock said, the highest match found in the initial results shared only 36 centimorgans with the suspect, meaning the relationship was way too far removed to be useful.
Then in August, a user in southern California uploaded his DNA, and it came back with 95 centimorgans in common. That meant he was the suspect’s second cousin twice removed.
The user, a man in his 60s trying to learn more about his grandparents on his father’s side, was eager to help, and he let investigators collaborate with a part-time genealogist he had hired.
He had his father’s DNA tested as well and found there were 226 centimorgans in common with the suspect’s DNA.
Hartsock said he, two other special agents, and three college interns then spent thousands of hours building out family trees, digging through public and law enforcement records, and calling all possible relatives.
They zeroed in on Angel Gurule after finding an obituary for his 2-year-old brother, who had been killed in a horrific case of child abuse in Artesia in 1996. The obituary mentioned the victim had a baby brother, Angel Duran. That baby was adopted by the Gurule family, and they all lived within a half mile from where the rape occurred.
In November, investigators learned Gurule’s wife was at the hospital and, after the couple checked out, they picked up his discarded cup to be tested for DNA. The DNA from the cup matched the rape kit, according to the criminal complaint, and investigators had enough to arrest him.
Gurule was booked into the county jail Wednesday and is charged with criminal sexual penetration.
As for the second cousin twice removed, Hartsock said Thursday, “I told him last night – he said awesome!!!”