DNA testing kits were one of the most popular gifts given in 21017, but it turns out that many people sending their DNA kits in for testing gave up a lot more privacy than they expect to. In fact, Oceanside criminal lawyers were surprised to discover that a familial DNA testing site was responsible for the recent arrest of the Golden State Killer.
Catching a Killer
Police turned to the website GEDmatch.com to solve the cold case of the Golden State Killer, who killed at least 12 people and raped at least 45 women. GEDmatch.com is a free, open-source DNA site that allows people to upload their results from genetic testing companies to find relatives or to do research. Police found the site useful for an entirely different purpose –by uploading the killers’s DNA profile, they were able to find relatives of the person responsible for the crimes. Then they were able to work backward to find someone in the family who would have been in the area and the right age to commit the murders when they were committed. Once they hit upon their likely suspect, Joseph James DeAngelo, they were able to stake out his home until they found something he discarded with his DNA on it. This DNA proved to be a perfect match to that of the killer.
Dangerous Privacy Implications
While this is a sterling example of amazing police work that uses every tool available can to solve a cold case, it also highlights concerns we have already discussed about the very real violations of privacy that occur when we allow police to use familial DNA to solve crimes. It also emphasizes the problem Oceanside criminal defense attorneys have with “surreptitious sampling” or the use of DNA acquired without warrants.
Few people will have a problem with the Golden State Killer getting caught after all these years, but Oceanside criminal lawyers warn that the problem with allowing investigators to use these kinds of questionable techniques to capture a notorious criminal is that you open the door to allowing them to use these methods to catch non-violent criminals. If these methods are used regularly, it’s easy to imagine our society becoming a science-fiction style police state in a very short matter of time.
It’s worth noting that police often ask for DNA samples from suspects. If asked for a DNA sample, a suspect should decline and contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately. If you have been charged with a crime and believe the police violated your rights during the investigation or if the police requested you provide a DNA sample, Oceanside criminal attorney Peter M. Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.