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Genealogical genetic testing links New Jersey man to sexual assaults, kidnappings

 June 1, 2023

Matthew Nilo, an attorney from Weehawken, New Jersey, was arrested this week in connection with a series of sexual assault and kidnapping cases dating back to 2007 and 2008 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Nilo, 35, was linked to these crimes more than a decade later through the innovative genetic genealogy method, as the Daily Mail reported.

Case Details and Arrest

Nilo, who specializes in cybersecurity law, is accused of committing heinous crimes against four victims in the Terminal Street area of Charlestown while he was a law student.

The charges against him are severe and include three counts of aggravated rape, two separate charges of kidnapping, one count of assault with the intent to rape, and one count of indecent assault and battery, CBS News reported.

The Boston Police Department, in collaboration with the Boston and Newark branches of the FBI and the Hudson County Sheriff's Office, apprehended Nilo without any incident. He is due to be extradited to Massachusetts shortly to stand trial for the charges.

Joseph Bonavolonta, an FBI Boston special agent, elucidated the importance of forensic genealogy, which was crucial in identifying Nilo as the suspect.

This technique enabled law enforcement to link Nilo's DNA to the cases recorded from Aug. 18, 2007, to Dec. 23, 2008.

Bonavolonta stated, "Today's arrest is the direct result of the FBI's use of investigative genetic genealogy, a unique method used to generate new leads in unsolved sex assaults."

In a press conference, Bonavolonta empathized with the victims who had been waiting for years to see their alleged perpetrator brought to justice.

Genetic Genealogy and Its Role

Bonavolonta describes that genetic genealogy is a unique investigative method that involves matching the DNA left at the crime scene to a public database of genetic material.

This method generates new leads in unsolved sexual assault cases. Despite the delay in identifying and subsequently arresting the suspect, the use of this tool has given victims some hope in their pursuit of justice. Bonavolonta acknowledged that while the arrest might answer some questions, it cannot diminish the victims' pain.

Kevin Hayden, the Suffolk District Attorney, commended the relentless efforts of the investigators following the arrest. "This arrest also highlights the fact that investigators never stop analyzing evidence, collecting information, and running down leads in order to bring dangerous offenders to justice," the New York Post reported.

Originally from Boston, Nilo studied law when the alleged crimes were committed. Law enforcement officials discovered he also lived in Wisconsin, California, and New York at different times.

They encourage anyone who believes they may have been a victim or has any information about these cases to contact the Boston Police or the FBI.

Nilo's Professional Background and Current Status

Nilo's professional reputation has been significantly affected by these allegations. His current employer, Cowbell, confirmed to the Daily Mail that they had suspended him pending the outcome of the investigation. They stated that Nilo had been hired in January 2023 after a comprehensive background check.

In the past, Nilo worked for Atheria Law in New York for three years and spent more than five years with Clyde & Co in San Francisco, California.

He received his law degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law, where he studied from 2012 to 2015. Before this, he completed his Psychology degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2010, coinciding with the time when the alleged offenses occurred.