DNA can be used to solve crimes that happened long ago. October 1, 2023

This story involves another court case.  This one is more serious than the previous one I wrote about.  It was printed in newspapers almost one hundred years ago and involves the rape of a teenage girl by her step-father.  Thanks to DNA, I can prove what really happened after all this time.  As usual, I was helping someone find a birth parent when I came across a much more interesting story.  Some of the relatives of the birth parent I found made headlines back in 1927.  I found over thirty newspaper articles involving this story.  I'll summarize the story, include several newspaper articles, then finally explain how DNA revealed the truth.  I think you'll find this story both interesting and appalling at the same time.

In 1927 in Illinois, William Ainsworth was accused of being the father of his fifteen-year-old step-daughter's child, and her soon to be born second child as well.  Both the step-daughter, Ethel Titus, and her mother, Ada Ainsworth, had mentioned this to a doctor and neighbors.  She was actually only fourteen when she got pregnant the first time.  When the police got notice of this, William was arrested for rape.  Or as they put it, "Criminal acts against his step-daughter."  It was known that William was an abusive man.  There were previous incidents of Ainsworth harming his wife and children.

After his arrest, his wife and step-daughter's story suddenly changed (due to fear of William, I'm sure).  The story they told in court was so ridiculous, it was laughable.  William and his lawyers said this was all a "frame-up" by the town's people because they didn't like him.  There was a story about a man who rented an apartment from him who wanted to leave, but didn't pay his final month's rent.  After an argument with Ainsworth, the man retaliated by making up this rape story about William.  Later, people supposedly broke into William's house and took the girl to the police and forced her to say she was raped by William.  That's not even the most unbelievable part however.  Ethel and Ada were brought to court and they tried to convince everyone that Ethel was not really fifteen years old.  They said she was almost eighteen, married to a man named Alfred Brown from Detroit, and he was the father of the children.  When Ada was asked what year her daughter was born, she said she couldn't remember, but she knows she's not fifteen.  When asked about Alfred Brown, she said she had met him, but did not know exactly where he lived.  Ethel refused to talk at all except to say that her name is really Ethel Brown.

Ethel and Ada's testimony was all proven to be lies.  No marriage license existed, and school and birth records showed Ethel was really fifteen.  They also noted that Ethel never seemed to be out of the area at the time she was supposedly getting married in Detroit.  No one had ever seen this mysterious Alfred Brown because he didn't exist.  It was said that they actually picked the name Alfred Brown at random from a phone book.  They were clearly afraid of William and felt they had to create a story to avoid more anger from him.

What happened next is quite strange, I don't totally understand it.  BOTH William AND Ethel went on trial.  The court declared that Ethel was a "delinquent."  I'm not quite sure what their definition of "delinquent" was back then, but I think they were saying she was partially responsible.  Wow!  Things were quite different a hundred years ago.  Below are some highlights from the newspaper articles I found.  check those out, then be sure to read how the story ends.  It's quite shocking.

Court case arrest. DNA solves crime after 100 years. Witnesses and testimony. Genealogy solves crimes. Child delinquency court case.

So, what happened to William and Ethel?  William was determined to be the father of the children, but did no jail time other than a short amount of time while the trial was going on.  He was not able to afford bail at first, but then agreed to remove Ethel from his home and therefore bail was reduced and he was set free.  Ethel was sent to a "training school for girls" in Geneva, Illinois, after her delinquency charge.  There was no mention of the case in the newspapers again until late 1928.  I found this small blurb that simply said "Drop Ainsworth Case."  There was no explanation.  I assume, since Ethel was now gone, they just swept the whole thing under the rug and moved on.  There is no indication that William ever returned to Jail.  Maybe he later convinced the court that he wasn't the father.  We can't be sure, but he somehow got away with this crime.

Court case dropped. DNA tells real story.

What about Ethel and the two children?  As far as I can tell, Ethel never lived with her family again, and that's probably a good thing.  In 1930 she was living with a family by the name of Heatly.  She was listed as their maid on the 1930 census.  Around that time, she married a man named Gary Pierce.  Ethel died in 1986 at age 74.  About the two children she had with William...  On the 1930 census shown below, we see them living with William, Ada, and their other children.  They are listed as William's "granddaughters" and their names are Violet and Margaret BROWN.  Crazy, right?  They were not really William's "granddaughters," they were his daughters.  They were given the last name Brown, even though no Mr. Brown really existed.  I suppose this was the best thing for the two girls.  I'm sure they would not want to find out their grandfather was really their father.  I have a hunch they spent their whole lives believing Alfred Brown was a real person.

Lots of information is available in census records.

So, how do I know for sure William is really the father of those two girls.  Well, besides all the obvious evidence above, there's the DNA.  Remember, when I started this, I was helping someone related to the Ainsworth family.  I am able to break down that person's DNA match list by people who only share Ainsworth DNA.  One of the DNA matches is a descendant of Violet Brown.  Violet's parents are supposed to be Alfred Brown and Ethel Titus.  Ethel's parents are Harry Titus and Ada Scales.  Violet brown and her descendants are not supposed to have Ainsworth DNA.  I can confirm 100% that descendents of Violet are a DNA match to the Ainsworth family.  William Ainsworth...  You ARE the father!

Next, find out how a birth parent can be found with a single DNA match.

Comment Box is loading comments...