Small genealogy website GEDmatch ‘never expected’ its criminal-catching use

golden state killer left dna on car door handle
Joseph James DeAngelo, the alleged Golden State Killer. Image credit: AP

Ever since investigators revealed that a genealogy website led police to arrest a man as California’s notorious Golden State Killer, interest in using genealogy to solve crimes has exploded.

At the center of all this is GEDmatch—a free genealogy website run by just two men who live 1,000 miles apart, an engineer in his 60s who lives in Texas and a 79-year-old retired businessman turned professional guardian in Florida. The site is—or was—a side project for them.

“I never expected anything like this,” says Curtis Rogers, who started GEDmatch along with John Olson. Rogers, who lives in Florida, had no idea investigators were using GEDmatch to find criminals until he saw the news about the Golden State Killer.

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Some users concerned about privacy did delete their data from GEDmatch, Rogers says. But he’s gotten an “awful lot” of emails thanking him, too. One in particular haunted him. He says a woman wrote that her father was a serial killer, and she wanted her data out there to give the families of his victim’s closure.

Over time, GEDmatch has become the go-to destination for serious genetic genealogists. People have found distant family members on the site, adoptees have found their biological parents, donor-conceived kids have found their sperm donors. It’s no wonder the police came calling, too.

Read full, original post: How a Tiny Website Became the Police’s Go-To Genealogy Database

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