The mission of Genealogy for Justice™ was born out of a phone call made on a family’s very worst day.
“What about their daughter?”
This was certainly not anything I could have ever anticipated coming out of the mouth of the surviving family member of a murder victim a colleague and I had just identified. When a Texas sheriff’s investigator told me he had no one to assign our cold case genetic genealogy investigation to, it was my job to break the heart of a Florida woman with a simple phone call.
Much has already been written and discussed around the fateful events that bound my family to the families of Dean and Tina Clouse. At some point it became quite a lot to manage along with everything going on in my life simultaneously with refocusing my five year old genetic genealogy consultancy to focus solely on forensic cases. To say it was a rough time is the understatement of the year; but it was also an exciting time.
Like most things in my life, and with that particular cold case, answers showed up. Conditions developed and solutions slid into place. In the case of managing two key tracks – forensic genetic genealogy and advocacy – that solution came in the form of my third-born child.
There is something uniquely exciting and fulfilling about watching your own child step into their own. I was gifted this mother’s dream when my daughter, Isabel founded Genealogy For Justice™ to take over certain issues that inevitably arise when solving really old cold cases. It’s been a rather sudden development, but it had its seeds in the experience of giving birth to a colicky baby whose father was adopted in Mexico. More recently, she watched me navigate the hurricane of media activity and advocacy after identifying former Jane Doe, Tina Linn Clouse and being thrown into the deep end of a nationwide search for her daughter, Holly Marie. The timing couldn’t have been more ideal, fortuitous, even.
G4J Founder Isabel de la Luz, second from left, and some of her family members including forensic genetic genealogist Allison Peacock, second from right, minutes after she received her Masters diploma in Mental Health Counseling.
Said daughter and I had talked about working together on our mutual interests since her undergrad days years earlier in Texas when she minored in Criminal Justice. About the time I really needed her, she decided to get her Masters degree in Mental Health. Of course I was proud and figured like everything else, if the time was right, one day we’d put that plan of working together to good use. Thanks to a random Facebook post in a forensic genealogy group, her older sister and I were soon kept busy operating another forensic genetic genealogy organization for someone else last year.
By last December, my life literally became a whirlwind. After identifying Tina, leaving the organization we had been working for, and the death of my father and my children’s beloved grandfather, I suddenly found myself moving across the country to Upstate New York. As luck would have it, I was able to stop by Alabama on my way from Texas to Albany and watch Isabel walk across the stage to receive her Masters diploma.
As big life changes go, this life long Texan soon went into “adapt to living at 10 degrees below zero on a mountain” mode.
By March we were able to hunker down to revamp FHD Forensics in order to focus on law enforcement cases. Isabel soon became my right arm.
And yet, the pull towards advocacy and fundraising kept at us. It seemed there were two very different jobs to do. I was getting phone calls from medical examiners with a dozen or more cases of unidentified remains cases without funding. While some amazing grant makers are doing a great job underwriting violent crime and sexual assault cases, the Does or “unidentified human remains” cases are often overlooked when funding is doled out. I would have never have been able to identify Tina, and Holly would likely have never been found by her family had my former employer not received a grant from true crime media producer, audiochuck.