Medical genetics

Using an unconventional technique that relies on DNA submitted to online genealogy sites; therefore investigators have solved dozens of violent crimes; in many cases decades after they hit dead ends. Because Experts believe the technique is use to revive investigations into a vast number of cold cases across the US; including at least 100,000 unsolved major violent crimes and 40,000 unidentify bodies.

Revolutionary new technology

Many have called it a revolutionary new technology. But credit for this method largely belongs to a number of mostly female; mostly retired family history lovers who tried for years to persuade law enforcement officials that their techniques could be used for more than locating the biological parents of adoptees.

One was Diane Harman Hoog, 78, director of education at DNA Adoption; who realised in 2013 that she could apply the techniques she was using to identify two bodies she had read about in a Seattle newspaper. “This is too complicate;” she says she is told when she reach out to a detective. Four years later; Margaret Press, 72, a retired computer programmer and skilled family tree builder in California; tried to help her local sheriff with a similar case. No one would return her calls.

Education at DNA Adoption

Fast forward to 25 April 2018; the day that a gaggle of California prosecutors announce that an “innovative DNA technology” is use in the Golden State Killer case. The innovator was Barbara Rae-Venter; a genetic genealogist who had uploaded crime scene DNA to GEDMatch.com, a low-key genealogical research site run out of a little yellow house in Florida. Rae-Venter, 70, and her team soon found a suspect by using the genetic and family tree data provided by his cousins.

And that was how a former police officer, Joseph DeAngelo, came to be charged with 26 counts of murder and kidnapping in connection with scores of rapes and killings that were committed across California in the 1970s and 1980s. In interview after interview, Paul Holes, a determined investigator who had spent decades chasing false leads; rejoiced in his decision to involve Rae-Venter.

Genealogists and investigators

“Barbara really braved the pass,” says CeCe Moore, a genetic genealogist who was also among the first to see the potential in the technique. Within a few weeks of the announcement; she began working with Parabon, a forensic consulting firm. An additional 300 cases are in the works: old killings, serial sexual assaults, and unidentified bodies; according to estimates by various genealogists and investigators.
Some question the ethics and legality of the technique. They point out that customers of genealogy companies did not realise they would be signing up to help criminal investigations; although GED match discloses that profiles could be used to investigate violent crimes. A recent decision by Family Tree DNA to pivot from secretly cooperating with the FBI to marketing itself as a means to catch killers has also left many alarmed.