The case went cold. The DNA sample from the 2001 slaying of University of Central Florida student Christine Frank led police nowhere.
More than 15 years later, Fields said he turned to commercial DNA sites for help.
Fields first tried with Ancestry.com and 23 and Me, then he finally looked into GEDmatch, which gave him what he needed.
“When I got the results back, I was floored,” Fields said.
When detectives ran the DNA sample from the crime scene, the database linked it to three people believed to be distant cousins of the killer.
Detectives were able to track down their suspect and make an arrest.
“I just applied the same thing we’ve been doing for years to this new thing,” Fields said.
He wrote up a search warrant of more than 50 pages.
“Since it was the first search warrant ever written against a genealogy website, I made sure every 'i' was dotted, every 't' was crossed,” Fields said.
A judge signed it, and GEDmatch responded within 24 hours, letting Fields push aside those privacy settings and search the website's database of about 1.5 million people.
He wasn’t able to provide a lot of detail about the case, but Fields did say the DNA data did generate some leads.