New DNA technology leads to DNA match in Daralyn Johnson murder case

Posted at 4:42 PM, May 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-05 19:31:49-04

BOISE — 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.

'I was hoping they might be able to help out with some cases we had here in Idaho," said Hampikian, "the Angie Dodge murder that Chris Tapps was wrongfully convicted of, and Charles Fain's case, were where I thought we might be able to use these techniques."

He introduced Ed to the detectives, and Green's new research led to David Allen Dalrymple, a DNA match.

"Ed Green was able to develop for the police, from these hairs, enough DNA information to know first it's from a male, which his important information, and second of all to get enough information that it could be compared to genealogy information," said Hampikian.

Hampikian says this is cutting edge stuff. They can look at smaller and smaller pieces to identify a mitochondrial DNA profile.

"Really, the best of the best of the best for old, dead, broken DNA," said Hampikian.

Dalrymple's sample was not one Greg had tested in his lab, but he says for the science, this is a satisfying end to a decades' long search for justice.

"This is forty years, so the lesson is you know kind of tragic that maybe people have to wait a long time, but the lesson for me is no, you never give up," said Hampikian.

Hampikian says he hopes this leads to another discussion on compensation. Earlier in the year, Governor Little vetoed a bill that would compensate wrongfully convicted people, like Charles Fain.

"Isn't it time to compensate 73-year-old Charles Fain, who's a Vietnam veteran whose only compensation was a pair of [shoes] and bus ticket?" said Hampikian.

Police also believe there are more victims, and urge them to come forward.