Beyond the Golden State Killer: More cold cases cracked through genetic databases

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Joseph James DeAngelo, who is accused of 12 murders, in court in Sacramento. His arrest in the “Golden State Killer” cold case was based on DNA evidence. Image credit: Paul Kitagaki Jr.

[After news of the Golden State Killer arrest], The New York Times reported arrests in long-dormant cases in Washington State and Pennsylvania [when] authorities again turned to GEDmatch for help. The online DNA profile warehouse hosts genetic data from roughly one million users who voluntarily uploaded this intimate information in the hopes of identifying possible relatives also using the site.

Law enforcement officials’ ability to upload a profile and search for any matches—for little cost and usually without a warrant—has reignited hopes for closing a lot of stubborn cold cases. But that means site users may now find themselves unwittingly offering information to criminal investigations.

Someone familiar with these intricacies and working with law enforcement officials could upload into GEDmatch raw data obtained from analyzing a genetic sample at a crime scene.

Related article:  Alzhiemer’s could be triggered by ‘genomic mosaicism’

If GEDmatch finds matches from a distant relative, investigators could potentially use that information as a starting point to triangulate a suspect’s identity—perhaps finding other possible relatives by using information from public records outside the Web site.

[Genetics professor Jim Evans] feels torn about using GEDmatch to investigate crimes. “I think privacy is increasingly becoming a thing of the past,” he says. “But I also think some awfully good things can come out of these big databases—for example, catching these horrible criminals.”

Read full, original post: Cold Cases Heat Up as Law Enforcement Uses Genetics to Solve Past Crimes

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