January 15, 2012 in Region

Family friend has odd link in killing

Suspect is descendant of Pilgrim with same name
Gene Johnson Associated Press
 

SEATTLE – William S. Fuller followed the news with interest this week when detectives announced a strange new lead in the search for a man who killed Fuller’s friend’s daughter two decades ago.

Relying on a new DNA analysis, the detectives said the unknown suspect is a distant relative of Edward and Samuel Fuller, who crossed the Atlantic on the Mayflower in 1620 – and that he might even share their last name.

It was an awkward coincidence, the present-day Fuller told the Associated Press on Thursday.

The 68-year-old worked for many years with the father and grandfather of Sarah Yarborough, a 16-year-old girl who was raped and strangled in the Seattle suburb of Federal Way in 1991. His daughter was one of Yarborough’s best friends, and he spearheaded the effort to build a memorial for her. Fuller said he doesn’t know if he’s related to the Pilgrims, but he is certain that no one in his family could be the culprit.

“Is it something we’re worried about? No, not at all,” Fuller said. “Because they know how close we were to the Yarboroughs, some people have asked about it jokingly, but they know it’s not a good question.”

The King County Sheriff’s Office, long stymied by the case, announced this week that it had sent the suspect’s DNA profile to forensic genealogist Colleen Fitzpatrick, who runs Huntington Beach, Calif.-based Identifinders International. Fitzpatrick noticed that the killer’s DNA strongly correlated with DNA profiles published as part of a genealogical study of the Fuller family.

Specifically, she said, the killer is a descendant of Robert Fuller, who arrived in Salem, Mass., in 1630. Fuller himself was not on the Mayflower, but he was related to three passengers: Edward Fuller, as well as Edward Fuller’s brother, Samuel, and 12-year-old son.

Fitzpatrick’s analysis followed the Y chromosome – the male line of the family – and therefore there’s a good chance the killer’s last name is or was Fuller, she said.

Detectives searched through their tip database following Fitzpatrick’s finding, but no one named Fuller has ever been fingered as a potential suspect in Yarborough’s death, King County sheriff’s Detective Jim Allen said.

Yarborough was last seen alive on a Saturday morning in December 1991, when she left home to take part in a dance team competition. Her body was found later that morning.

About six people saw the suspect – including two kids, a jogger, a man who helped create a sketch of the suspect and a girl on the drill team.

They described him as being in his 20s, white, 6 feet tall or just under, with shoulder-length blond hair, a trench coat and dark pants. One saw the suspect interacting with her, and some saw him leaving the brushy area where her body was found.

Fuller, a longtime co-worker and friend of Yarborough’s father and grandfather at Weyerhaeuser Corp., told the AP he has five daughters and no sons, and he himself was an only child, so he has no nephews that could have matched the description. His family has been able to trace their lineage no further than a great-grandfather in Idaho, he said.

© Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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