Police Used DNA to Identify the Golden State Killer



The Golden State Killer murdered people in California during the 1970s and 1980s. The case went “cold”. In 2018, police identified Joseph James DeAngelo as the Golden State Killer by using DNA to solve the case.

BuzzFeed News reported that DeAngelo was identified from partial matches between crime scene DNA and profiles uploaded to a public genetic genealogy database called GEDMatch. BuzzFeed News explained “Customers of DNA testing firms can upload their genetic profiles to GEDMatch and make a wider set of connections than would be possible just by matching people tested by the same company.”

BuzzFeed News reported that Family Tree DNA told them that their parent company, Gene by Gene “received a federal subpoena from the Eastern District of California in March 2007 asking for ‘limited information’ about a single customer account.”

This website, FamilyTree.com, is NOT connected with or part of either Family Tree DNA or Gene by Gene.

Techdirt reported: “Police created a fake account to submit the sample they had and received matches that allowed them to narrow down the list of suspects. This was combined with lots of other regular police work – combing public records and obituaries for living relatives near the locations the crimes occurred – to gradually hone in on Joseph James DeAngelo…”

Techdirt points out that police investigators also used Family Tree DNA to look for popular matches.

KRON 4 reported that consumer privacy advocates and lawmakers are “sounding an alarm” in regards to this situation. There are concerns that this could be “the future of law enforcement”. KRON 4 reported that detectives in Northern California are trying to get a DNA profile on the Zodiac Killer, for the purpose of tracking him down the same way the Golden State Killer was identified.

Another concern is that people who take direct-to-consumer DNA tests are not giving much thought about what happens to their DNA after they receive results. Will the DNA test company sell your DNA sample? What happens if law enforcement obtains a subpoena and asks a DNA test company for your DNA information?

By now, many people who take a direct-to-consumer DNA test are aware that the results could reveal things they were unprepared to hear. For example, a person may learn that they were adopted, that they have half-siblings they never met, or they have genetic mutations that increase the risk of developing a specific disease. It is now clear that submitting your DNA also can reveal genetic information about your relatives – because all of you share some DNA.

Related Articles at Family Tree.com:

* FamilyTreeDNA.Com

* DNA Testing Might Affect Your Ability to Get Life Insurance

* DNA Tests May Reveal the Skeletons in the Family Closet

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