Inherited secrets: Memoir of America's groundbreaking genetic witness

second cousin of William Earl Talbott II

Chelsea & Ben

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CBC Fifth Estate: "Is Murder In Your DNA?"

Chelsea discusses her experience as a genetic witness — learning of Talbott’s arrest, and attending his sentencing in support of the victims’ families.

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CTV W5: "Family Secrets"

Chelsea offers her personal insights regarding the moral implications of investigative genetic genealogy, and its role in this precedent-setting case.

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PBS NOVA: "Secrets In Our DNA"

Chelsea recalls the story of how an AncestryDNA kit she won in a contest gave investigators the tip they needed to identify a killer.

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I think Chelsea tells the William Earl Talbott II story so accurately and does it so well from a personal perspective. The information comes straight from time spent collecting data about family.
Ben Kaufman

The Author

Chelsea Rustad was the genetic witness to a double homicide committed by her second cousin, William Earl Talbott II — a cold case from November of 1987. Over 30 years later, it became the first case in the world to ever go to trial and result in a conviction due to investigative genetic genealogy.

Chelsea became an ambassador for the Institute of DNA Justice in 2019, and was a speaker at the Midwestern Conference for Investigative Genetic Genealogy at Wichita, Kansas in January of 2020.

She has been featured in People magazine, as the cover story for the Everett Herald, in the documentaries Is Murder In Your DNA? by CBC Fifth Estate, Family Secrets by CTV W5, Secrets In Our DNA by PBS NOVA, A Killer in the Family Tree by 48 Hours, and the Stripped podcast.

Inherited Secrets is the first book telling the story of the trailblazing hunt for justice for Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg, and the only true crime memoir written from the perspective of the genetic witness whose DNA cracked the case.

Chelsea relates new details of the story not yet revealed anywhere else: how her DNA came to be used to find the perpetrator, the reaction by Talbott’s family, the shocking discoveries revealed in the Talbott family statements, and the Rustad and Talbott family trees with in-depth profiles.

Also included are over 200 never before seen family photos and documents, new insights from the victims’ families, Chelsea’s personal approach to genealogy, the search for answers to her own family mysteries, her takeaways for victims’ advocacy as a genetic witness and a survivor herself, and more.

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Chelsea has discussed her experience with the Talbott case in documentaries, articles, books, podcasts, and more.
The Australian: How family tree DNA databases are helping to crack cold cases
48 Hours: A Killer in the Family Tree
People magazine: 10/19/2020 issue at newsstands and for online subscribers, out now (digital preview)
New York Times: Your DNA Test Could Send a Relative to Jail
CBS Mornings: How DNA uploaded to a database helped solve a double murder after 31 years
CBS News: How a childhood Halloween photo helped a woman uncover a killer in her family tree
PBS NOVA: Secrets In Our DNA
The Everett Herald: My cousin, the killer: Her DNA cracked a 1987 double murder
CBC Fifth Estate: Is Murder In Your DNA?
CTV W5: Family Secrets
Edward Humes: The Forever Witness
Reddit: Ask Me Anything
Stripped podcast: Episode #04
CBC: Killer of Tanya Van Cuylenborg and Jay Cook gets 2 life sentences for 1987 murders
Unraveled: Podcast series
Unraveled: Once a Killer

YOU are a very good writer. Chelsea, I love this - you paint such great pictures - I was drawn in
terry murphy
Chelsea can help with researching your family tree and performing genetic genealogy analysis. Please click the image to learn more on Fiverr!

Questions or Comments?

I use Twitter to discuss investigative genetic genealogy, victim advocacy, and my experience as a genetic witness. Please feel free to engage with me there:

You may also use this form to send me any questions, comments, or inquiries about my story.

(An apparently necessary disclaimer: please no solicitors, spam, or using this contact form to ask me out as I am happily married. Thanks!)

Inherited Secrets

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