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Police lay out what’s next in the search for Angie Dodge’s suspected killer

Crime Watch

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Idaho Falls Police Chief Mark McBride addresses the media and public in a news conference Wednesday. He described the department’s next step in identifying a suspect in the murder of Angie Dodge. | Stephan Rockefeller, EastIdahoNews.com.

IDAHO FALLS — The Angie Dodge murder case has been open for more than 20 years, but now the Idaho Falls Police Department is hoping to make new headway, thanks to DNA-generated sketches of the man they believed killed her.

On Wednesday, Idaho Falls Police Chief Mark McBride said in a news conference that his department is more committed than ever to solving this murder. Idaho Falls police began investigating the case of 18‐year‐old Angie Dodge on June 13, 1996.

“The Idaho Falls Police Department has spent more time and money investigating this case then it has in any other case in the history of the department,” McBride said during the conference. “This case has gone through three administrations and continues to receive the same level of importance as the initial investigation.”

Christopher Tapp was originally arrested and imprisoned for the rape and murder of Angie Dodge. He was released last month as part of a resentencing agreement, and the rape charged was dropped. However, his murder conviction still stands.

Although Tapp is the only person to have been convicted in the murder, police say evidence indicates multiple people were involved.

“The collection and extraction of one major and two minor DNA profiles, indicates there is more then one individual involved in the death of Angie Dodge,” McBride said. “With current technologies, the major profile is the only profile that can be used to make an identification.”

McBride said the major DNA profile from whom they believe to be the primary offender has remained unknown, even after searching databases such as the Combined DNA Index System and the FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program.

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But now the department is making use of a DNA technology through Parabon NanoLabs in Virginia. The lab generates sketches of people showing their phenotypes, or observable characteristics, using their DNA.

During the news conference, Dr. Ellen McRae Greytak, director of bioinformatics at Parabon NanoLabs, said her company creates the phenotype image using the a DNA sample and comparing distinguishing DNA traits with a database. The database is built from thousands of volunteer’s DNA and help researchers determine the probably of eye color, hair color, skin tone and ethnicity.

These sketches show the suspect in the Angie Dodge murder case based on DNA findings. On top is the killer as he may have appeared in 1996, and the bottom photo shows what he could look like today. | Courtesy Parabon NanoLabs

“The goal is not identification,” Greytak said during the conference. “There is not going to be only one person in the world that matches those phenotype predictions. The goal is really exclusion, to exclude people in a suspect list that do not match.”

But not everyone believes that’s helpful. Tapp said the image is so generic, it just muddies the case.

“I get what they are doing, but its kind of gives Carol (Dodge, Angie’s mother) and the rest of the community false hope,” Tapp told EastIdahoNews.com after the conference.

The next step for IFPD is to absorb the tips they anticipate to come in as a result of these new images.

“We know from experience from other agencies, when they put these out they get a lot of phone tips to follow up on.” McBride said.

Anyone with tips about the case can call the Idaho Falls Police Department Tip Line at (800) 927-1239.

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