By Anica Padilla

GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4) — Investigators used DNA phenotyping — the process of predicting physical appearance from DNA evidence — to help identify the man who kidnapped a 7-year-old girl in Greeley in 2001. The Greeley Police Department identified the suspect as Jaime “James” Zamora, who was 26 years old at the time and lived in Greeley.

The 7-year-old victim was walking to school with her 8-year-old brother in northeast Greeley on the morning of Sept. 18, 2001. A man, who was waiting near an alley, got out and forced the girl into his car. The man drove the little girl to a secluded area south of the Greeley airport, east of Highway 85, where he sexually assaulted her.

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The girl managed to get away — and made her way to the Air National Guard gate near the airport, where police were called.

At the time, the victim described the suspect as being light skinned. She believed he might have been around 25 years old, and said he had a bad complexion and possibly a tattoo of a snake on one arm. She said he spoke a little Spanish.

In August of 2019, Greeley police contacted Parabon NanoLabs in Virginia to request the company’s Snapshot DNA Phenotyping Service.

Snapshot produced a composite image predicting the subject’s ancestry, eye color, hair color, skin color, freckling, and face shape. The image depict what the attacker may have looked like at 25 years old, with an average body-mass index of 22.

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(credit: Parabon NanoLabs)

Investigators noted that environmental factors such as smoking, drinking, diet, and other non-environmental factors — such as facial hair, hairstyle, scars, etc. — cannot be predicted.

Using the Snapshot and genetic genealogy, investigators developed information leading to Zamora.

Jaime “James” Zamora (credit: Greeley Police)

Zamora died in 2014 and evidence from his autopsy was matched to the suspect DNA collected in 2001.

Jaime “James” Zamora in 2012 (credit: Greeley Police)

The victim and her family have been notified of the discovery.

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Investigators said only publicly available databases with law enforcement programs were used in this investigation. At no time were private commercial DNA service databases, such as 23andMe or AncestryDNA, used.

Anica Padilla