Idaho News 6 | Jessica Taylor | May 6, 2020
Cutting edge DNA technology led to a match and arrest in the Daralyn Johnson case. Boise State professor and director of the Idaho Innocence Project Greg Hampikian had a critical hand to play in the discovery.
Hampikian knows DNA; he’s been studying samples of it from suspects for years to assist canyon county detectives in the Daralyn Johnson case.
In February 1982, Daralyn went missing after walking to school in Nampa. Days later, 9-year-old Daralyn was found raped, assaulted, and drowned. Charles Fain was initially arrested for the crime and spent 18 years behind bars. The Idaho Innocence project worked to get him exonerated in 2001. Fain was initially pinned to the crime based on hair evidence.
“Hair isn’t the best evidence for DNA,” said Hampikian.
Eventually, Fain’s lawyer was able to show the hairs didn’t match, exonerating Fain, but the case was still unsolved.
“We’re left with this problem, whose hair is it?” said Hampikian.
Greg had been testing various DNA samples related to the case in his lab since 2012.
“The folks at my lab at the time, Michael Davis, did mitochondrial sequencing on DNA of suspects that were eliminated, all of them were eliminated,” said Hampikian.
In 2016 Greg met scientist Ed Green, whose lab at U.C. Santa Cruz looks at old, broken, and degraded DNA.