golden state killer

how dna sleuths solved a 40- year old cold case

Real Crime - - Front Page - Words Nell Darby

On Wed­nes­day 24 April 2018, po­lice knocked at the door of an el­derly man liv­ing in anony­mous sur­round­ings in the com­mu­nity of Cit­rus Heights, some 126 kilo­me­tres north­east of Sacra­mento in north­ern Cal­i­for­nia. The sep­tu­a­ge­nar­ian was in the mid­dle of cook­ing a roast din­ner, but he would never get around to eat­ing it. In­stead, he was ar­rested and charged with an ini­tial eight mur­ders across four dif­fer­ent Cal­i­for­nian lo­ca­tions.

He seemed an un­likely mur­derer at first; 72 years old, not in the best of health, bald­ing and with a mouth so down­turned it made him look per­ma­nently glum. He was also a for­mer po­lice­man – surely a man who had worked on the right side of the law could not have committed mur­der? But then more facts emerged: Joseph James DeAn­gelo may have been a re­tiree with a quiet sub­ur­ban life, but his po­lice ca­reer had ended with an ig­no­min­ious fir­ing from the Auburn Po­lice De­part­ment. He was now the main sus­pect in more than 175 crimes committed over a decade be­tween 1976 and 1986, and it was the in­creas­ing pop­u­lar­ity in the use of ge­neal­ogy web­sites to lo­cate in­di­vid­u­als’ fam­ily mem­bers and an­ces­tors that had fi­nally led po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors to him.

Six days be­fore his ar­rest Joseph James DeAn­gelo went to visit his lo­cal craft store, the Hobby Lobby in Ro­seville, Cal­i­for­nia. It was a day like any other; he drove from his home to the Hobby Lobby park­ing lot, but as he pulled up he had no idea that wait­ing nearby were a team of in­ves­ti­ga­tors. Once inside the store, he didn’t see the po­lice make their way to his car to swab the driver’s side han­dle. It was this swab that would later prove cru­cial.

It was sent for test­ing and was matched to a sam­ple re­cov­ered from one of the crime scenes of the no­to­ri­ous Golden State Killer. Five days later they found a tis­sue in DeAn­gelo’s trash can out­side his house and sent that off to be ex­am­ined. Both sam­ples matched this el­derly man to the scene of a crime that had gone unpunished for nearly 40 years – the rape and mur­der in 1980 of 33- year- old in­te­rior dec­o­ra­tor Char­lene Smith, who was killed along­side her at­tor­ney hus­band Ly­man.

This was the last in a se­ries of ac­tions taken by po­lice to lo­cate and ar­rest a man sus­pected of be­ing one of Amer­ica’s most wanted crim­i­nals for decades. Ear­lier that year they had man­aged to com­pare ge­netic pro­files from ge­neal­ogy data­bases to crime scene DNA, and these had nar­rowed down their list of sus­pects.

Crime and pun­ish­ment

The 1970s and 1980s saw a spate of rapes and mur­ders that were orig­i­nally at­trib­uted to four at­tack­ers – the Visalia Ran­sacker, the Golden State Killer, the East Area Rapist and the Orig­i­nal Night Stalker. All four, it is now be­lieved, were the same soli­tary man. Ini­tially, in the early to mid 1970s, this in­di­vid­ual en­gaged in a se­ries of bur­glar­ies in Visalia. Most of the offences in­volved ran­sack­ing, steal­ing per­sonal items and gen­er­ally ig­nor­ing money, al­though coins were some­times stolen. How­ever, it was also in Visalia that the first mur­der oc­curred – that of Claude Snelling, who was shot in the au­tumn of 1975 while at­tempt­ing to stop his teenaged daugh­ter from be­ing ab­ducted. In Au­gust 2018 mur­der charges were filed against DeAn­gelo in this case.

This sole mur­der marked the end of the crime spree in Visalia. This is be­cause in 1976 DeAn­gelo re­lo­cated to the Sacra­mento area and was soon search­ing mid­dle- class ar­eas at night for women to rape. After iden­ti­fy­ing a po­ten­tial vic­tim, he might un­der­take a re­con­nais­sance of their prop­erty, look­ing through win­dows or even break into them, un­lock­ing the win­dows and plant­ing items for him to use there later. He planned his at­tacks care­fully in ad­vance. He might ring the vic­tim, pre­tend­ing he had a wrong num­ber, or sim­ply learn their day- to- day rou­tines.

As time went on he would choose cou­ples over a sin­gle woman, break­ing in at night and wak­ing his sleep­ing vic­tims with a flash­light or a threat. He would blind­fold and gag his vic­tims, then sep­a­rate them in or­der to rape the woman. He would spend hours in their houses, ran­sack­ing their goods, eat­ing their food, steal­ing their prop­erty. He would leave on

BOTH SAM­PLES MATCHED THIS EL­DERLY MAN TO THE SCENE OF A CRIME THAT HAD GONE UNPUNISHED FOR NEARLY 40 YEARS

foot or on a bi­cy­cle, ex­it­ing qui­etly in or­der to con­fuse his vic­tims as to whether he re­ally had left or was still in their home, ready to pounce once more.

Be­tween June 1976 and July 1979, there were 51 re­ported offences with sim­i­lar modus operan­dis across five coun­ties. By this lat­ter date the sus­pect had be­come a mur­derer. In Fe­bru­ary 1978, a young mar­ried cou­ple, Brian and Katie Mag­giore, were out walk­ing their dog one night in Ran­cho Cor­dova, an area where five at­tacks had al­ready been re­ported. They were con­fronted by an in­di­vid­ual, and as they tried to run away they were shot dead. Their bod­ies were found in the back­yard of a house in their neigh­bour­hood.

In the sum­mer of 1979, it ap­peared that the East Area Rapist had re­lo­cated once more, this time to south­ern Cal­i­for­nia. First, a rape was re­ported, and then in Oc­to­ber a cou­ple sur­vived an at­tempted mur­der in Go­leta, Santa Bar­bara County. Be­tween De­cem­ber 1979 and July 1981, nine peo­ple were mur­dered – four cou­ples and one woman, Char­lene Smith. There was then a five- year gap be­fore a fi­nal mur­der – that of 18- year- old Janelle Cruz – in May 1986, in Or­ange County. Sev­eral of these mur­ders had sim­i­lar­i­ties to the Sacra­mento at­tacks, with cou­ples be­ing tied up, women be­ing raped and the killer flee­ing on a bi­cy­cle.

A killer’s pri­vate life

While these offences were be­ing committed, DeAn­gelo main­tained an im­age of an or­di­nary Cal­i­for­nian man dur­ing the day. That is un­til one day in 1979, when he shoplifted a can of dog re­pel­lent and a ham­mer from a branch of the Pay ‘ n Save drug­store chain in Sacra­mento. This act led to him be­ing fired from his job as a po­lice­man. He had al­ways been in­ter­ested in crime, iron­i­cally, but as a young man had been more in­ter­ested in the the­o­ret­i­cal, get­ting a de­gree in crim­i­nal jus­tice after an ear­lier ca­reer in the navy and a spell fighting in Viet­nam. The New York state na­tive had worked as a po­lice of­fi­cer in Ex­eter, Cal­i­for­nia, from 1973 to 1976. Ex­eter is a city in Tu­lare County, and, sig­nif­i­cantly, the county seat of Tu­lare is Visalia. It was dur­ing the time DeAn­gelo was work­ing in Ex­eter that the Visalia Ran­sacker

PO­LICE RE­STRICTED THEIR SEARCH TO AGE AND LO­CA­TION. oNE IN­DI­VID­UAL WAS RULED OUT BY A REL­A­TIVE’S DNA TEST, MEAN­ING THERE WAS JUST ONE LEFT: JOSEPH DEAN­GELO

started com­mit­ting crimes. In 1976, DeAn­gelo moved into the ju­ris­dic­tion of the Auburn Po­lice De­part­ment in the Greater Sacra­mento area. A se­ries of crimes duly started in the vicin­ity.

DeAn­gelo’s pri­vate life had seemed like any­one else’s though. He had served in the mil­i­tary, gone to univer­sity, be­come a po­lice of­fi­cer. He had mar­ried his wife Sharon in 1973 and they had three daugh­ters to­gether. Sharon had then be­come an at­tor­ney. In 1991, the cou­ple sep­a­rated, later di­vorc­ing. At the time of his ar­rest, DeAn­gelo was still liv­ing with a daugh­ter and grand­daugh­ter and work­ing at a su­per­mar­ket’s dis­tri­bu­tion ware­house. He was known by his co- work­ers as a se­ri­ous, un­smil­ing man with a very short fuse, but he wasn’t seen as any­thing out of the or­di­nary, cer­tainly not a vi­o­lent man.

Mean­while, the north­ern Cal­i­for­nia rapes and the south­ern Cal­i­for­nia mur­ders be­came cold cases. Al­though some sus­pected the East Area Rapist was the same in­di­vid­ual as the Orig­i­nal Night Stalker, no­body had been charged with be­ing ei­ther. The search for the man re­spon­si­ble con­tin­ued. In 2011, DNA tech­nol­ogy had de­vel­oped to the ex­tent that the north­ern Cal­i­for­nia rapes could be linked to the mur­ders in the south­ern part of the state, and five years after that, in 2016, a task force was created by the Sacra­mento County DA, Anne Marie Schu­bert, to help find him. The FBI, which of­fered a $ 50,000 re­ward for in­for­ma­tion re­lat­ing to the GSK, de­scribed him as be­ing white, tall and of an ath­letic build and pos­si­bly with an in­ter­est in law en­force­ment tech­niques.

The de­scrip­tion matched Joseph DeAn­gelo, but it was only in 2018 that a break in the case led po­lice to him, and that was the use by po­lice of ge­netic in­for­ma­tion on a ‘ con­sumer ge­neal­ogy web­site’ that nar­rowed the list of sus­pects sub­stan­tially.

Ge­netic ge­neal­ogy

Ge­netic ge­neal­ogy – the use of DNA test­ing com­bined with older ge­nealog­i­cal meth­ods in or­der to find re­la­tions and an­ces­tors – is a rel­a­tively new field but one that is grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity. It is also re­garded as part of foren­sic ge­neal­ogy – the use of foren­sic tech­niques as ap­plied to fam­ily his­tory. Ge­nealog­i­cal DNA tests have been of­fered for nearly 20 years, and over 12 mil­lion peo­ple, pri­mar­ily in Amer­ica, have so far had their DNA tested for ge­neal­ogy pur­poses. Di­rect- to- con­sumer ge­netic DNA test­ing is of­fered by sev­eral com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Ances­tryDNA, a sub­sidiary of the An­ces­try. com ge­neal­ogy com­pany, which claims to have 7 mil­lion cus­tomers. The tests are at­trac­tive be­cause of their

sim­plic­ity – both An­ces­try DNA’s kit, and that of­fered by an­other provider, 23andme, in­volve spit­ting into a tube be­fore send­ing it off, and sev­eral weeks later you can ac­cess the re­sults on­line.

An­other provider, MyHer­itage, re­quires a cheek swab rather than a saliva sam­ple. The test re­sults let you link to oth­ers with fam­ily trees or DNA re­sults on­line, al­low­ing you to lo­cate rel­a­tives, from par­ents to dis­tant cousins.

Al­though ge­netic ge­neal­ogy orig­i­nated as a be­nign way of find­ing out more about an in­di­vid­ual’s fam­ily, it is also a log­i­cal way to help trace mur­der vic­tims. One group, the DNA Doe Pro­ject, aims to help give a name to uniden­ti­fied mur­der vic­tims us­ing vol­un­teers from the ge­netic ge­neal­ogy com­mu­nity to help gen­er­ate in­for­ma­tion based on de­graded DNA. The pro­ject re­cently es­tab­lished the iden­tity of a young woman who was mur­dered in Ohio in 1981.

Known as ‘ Buck­skin Girl’ for decades, DNA ob­tained from a blood sam­ple dur­ing the vic­tim’s au­topsy was up­loaded to a pub­lic ge­neal­ogy data­base. From this, the pro­ject team was able to iden­tify an in­di­vid­ual and then looked for po­ten­tial vic­tims among the rel­a­tives listed on an­other ge­neal­ogy web­site, An­ces­try. The vic­tim was sub­se­quently iden­ti­fied as 21- year- old Mar­cia Lenore King of Arkansas.

The DNA Doe Pro­ject has showed the po­ten­tial of ge­netic ge­neal­ogy with uniden­ti­fied vic­tims, but law en­forcers have sim­i­larly been recog­nis­ing its value in iden­ti­fy­ing per­pe­tra­tors of crime, as has been proved in the GSK case. Where these tests and re­sults come in use­ful to po­lice is in ty­ing DNA from crime scene ev­i­dence to the DNA tests an in­di­vid­ual may have done on­line us­ing one of the ge­neal­ogy sites, es­pe­cially if they have then up­loaded the re­sults – the raw DNA data – to a site such as GED­match. There­fore, po­lice de­tec­tives have been turn­ing to ge­netic ge­neal­ogy in or­der to search out dis­tant rel­a­tives of the un­known per­pe­tra­tor in a cold case by look­ing at the DNA that has been vol­un­tar­ily sub­mit­ted by oth­ers to a ge­neal­ogy data­base. They can then lo­cate dis­tant cousins and nar­row down po­ten­tial sus­pects. In work­ing this way, po­lice do not need a sus­pect to have pre­vi­ously committed an­other crime or been ar­rested and had their DNA tested – they sim­ply need one of their rel­a­tives to have been tested and up­loaded their data.

In the case of the Golden State Killer, the DNA of this as- yet- uniden­ti­fied in­di­vid­ual was orig­i­nally ob­tained after Ly­man and Char­lene Smith were killed in Ven­tura County in 1980, thanks to DNA be­ing left at the scene of the crime. Po­lice then com­pared this to DNA sam­ples from other crimes, such as rapes, not just in the county but across the state of Cal­i­for­nia. This un­known sus­pect was then linked to crimes across ten dif­fer­ent coun­ties. In­ves­ti­ga­tors then in­put the DNA sam­ple they had into GED­match, which con­tained pro­files based on ge­netic in­for­ma­tion that had been vol­un­tar­ily up­loaded and shared. These pro­files had gen­er­ated fam­ily trees of ge­net­i­cally re­lated in­di­vid­u­als, and po­lice went through these look­ing for leads. From this in­for­ma­tion they were able to iden­tify be­tween ten and 20 in­di­vid­u­als who shared the same great- great- great­grand­par­ents as the sus­pect.

iN AD­DI­TION, THERE IS SCOPE FOR EROR, WHICH MEANS THE WRONG PEO­PLE COULD POTENTIALY BE IDEN­TI­FIED AS SUS­PECTS

They then re­stricted their search to age and lo­ca­tion and were left with two in­di­vid­u­als. One was ruled out by a rel­a­tive’s DNA test, mean­ing there was just one left: Joseph DeAn­gelo. It was at this point that po­lice put him un­der sur­veil­lance and matched him to Char­lene Smith’s killing through the two DNA sam­ples. The DNA ob­tained at the Smith crime scene linked one man with other mur­ders at­trib­uted to the Golden State Killer: this man was now be­lieved to be DeAn­gelo, who was ar­rested and charged.

Eth­i­cally, there are con­cerns about pri­vacy through us­ing peo­ple’s DNA re­sults in this way. In­di­vid­u­als sub­mit their DNA not to iden­tify killers in their fam­ily but be­cause they want to build their fam­ily his­tory, or, in some in­stances, iden­tify bi­o­log­i­cal fam­ily ( some peo­ple have, for ex­am­ple, iden­ti­fied and tracked down their bi­o­log­i­cal par­ents or sib­lings us­ing such meth­ods). Yet now, these fam­ily his­to­ri­ans are dis­cov­er­ing that their DNA could be used by po­lice to iden­tify a rapist or even a killer within their fam­ily. Lead­ing ge­neal­o­gist at the So­ci­ety of Ge­neal­o­gists ( www. sog. org. uk)

Else Churchill, has con­fi­dence in the sys­tem, how­ever.

“The ge­neal­o­gist al­ways has to bal­ance pri­vacy is­sues. I don’t think law en­force­ment over­rides pri­vacy is­sues, just as I wouldn’t say that ge­nealog­i­cal re­search over­rides pri­vacy is­sues. Judy Rus­sell, on her web­site www. legal­ge­neal­o­gist.

com, points out that all the ma­jor DNA ge­neal­ogy test­ing com­pa­nies make clear their pri­vacy poli­cies and rules for us­ing the sites by law en­force­ment. No­body, not even the po­lice, is al­lowed to up­load a DNA sam­ple sur­rep­ti­tiously or use a fake name.”

On An­ces­try, the DNA sam­ple owner is said to con­trol who sees their re­sults; you have to ‘ share’ your re­sults on your re­sult page or in­vite other users to see them. You can also ap­ply to re­ceive a down­load of your raw DNA data. Then you can up­load this to sites such as GED­match, thus en­abling oth­ers to ac­cess it.

In Cal­i­for­nia, con­cerns have been raised about pri­vacy is­sues, cit­ing the state’s On­line Pri­vacy Pro­tec­tion Act. In the light of the Face­book/ Cam­bridge An­a­lyt­ica scan­dal, fur­ther con­cerns re­lat­ing to whether it is eth­i­cal to use per­son­ally iden­ti­fi­able in­for­ma­tion in a way it was not in­tended for are now preva­lent. How­ever, it is made clear within GED­match’s pri­vacy pol­icy that any­one who up­loads their DNA may find that it is searched by law en­forcers – so you are im­plic­itly giv­ing your per­mis­sion for your re­sults to be used in this way if you use the site. Whether those who com­mit crimes would sim­i­larly give per­mis­sion is less likely.

In ad­di­tion, there is scope for er­ror, which means that the wrong peo­ple could po­ten­tially be iden­ti­fied as sus­pects in cases they were not in­volved in. This is be­cause cer­tain DNA mark­ers can be shared by many peo­ple, so match­ing them against large data­bases might re­sult in er­ro­neous re­sults. The law might also need to be up­dated to re­flect the new use that DNA pro­files are be­ing put to. While in the US there is the Ge­netic In­for­ma­tion Nondis­crim­i­na­tion Act, this only stops in­sur­ance com­pa­nies and other busi­nesses from dis­crim­i­nat­ing against in­di­vid­u­als on the ba­sis of their DNA pro­file. It does not spec­ify that their pro­file should not be used for law en­force­ment pur­poses. Many users of an­ces­try web­sites fail to re­alise that per­mis­sion to use their pro­files for such pur­poses may have been im­plied by sign­ing their agree­ment of long terms of use, which they likely haven’t read in full. Else has a prag­matic re­sponse to the con­cerns some have.

“I per­son­ally have no prob­lem with law en­force­ment us­ing my DNA in­for­ma­tion on sites such as GED­match… No­body is forced to take a test, and I re­spect their wishes. If any­one has con­cerns though, I would draw their at­ten­tion to the rules and poli­cies of the ge­neal­ogy web­sites.”

Since DeAn­gelo’s ar­rest, GED­match has re­it­er­ated to its users that if they give per­mis­sion for their DNA to be used to build pro­files, they might also be used by law en­force­ment. It has added in a state­ment to the press that any users who are con­cerned “should not up­load…[ their] DNA to the data­base”.

In Cal­i­for­nia, dis­cus­sion is cur­rently un­der­way to ex­plore whether the state’s data­base should col­lect DNA from peo­ple

con­victed of cer­tain mis­de­meanours ( a manda­tory col­lec­tion of DNA), and a 2004 law al­ready al­lows for the DNA test­ing of those who have been ar­rested for cer­tain felonies, even if they have not yet been con­victed. There are un­doubt­edly hu­man rights is­sues sur­round­ing the col­lec­tion and use of DNA pro­files for law en­force­ment pur­poses, but ad­her­ents of the tech­nique ar­gue that the pre­ven­tion of crime is what is im­por­tant here, and this usurps con­cerns about pri­vacy or the rights of those ac­cused or con­victed of offences.

Who next?

Al­though the Golden State Killer is the big­gest suc­cess to date, po­lice and law en­force­ment of­fi­cials have been try­ing to solve cases us­ing an­ces­try web­sites for the past two years. In 2016, a woman who had been steal­ing peo­ple’s iden­ti­ties was iden­ti­fied partly as a re­sult of one of her rel­a­tive’s DNA pro­files be­ing sub­mit­ted to an an­ces­try web­site.

Since DeAn­gelo was ar­rested and charged with 12 counts of mur­der, other cold cases also ap­pear to have been solved with the help of ge­netic ge­neal­ogy. In one case, Michella Welch, 12, was killed in the state of Wash­ing­ton in 1986. Her body was quickly lo­cated. She had been killed by a blunt force to the head and had also been sex­u­ally as­saulted. Yet un­til June this year no­body had been charged with her mur­der. Things changed after DNA from the crime scene was matched to the pro­files of peo­ple who had sub­mit­ted their DNA to a ge­neal­ogy data­base. One of their fam­ily mem­bers – by now a man in his 60s – was charged with Michella’s death.

The same month, a man was ar­rested in re­la­tion to the 1992 mur­der of teacher Christy Mirack after a DNA sam­ple from the crime scene was an­a­lysed and up­loaded to a ge­neal­ogy data­base. It matched rel­a­tives of a 49- year- old DJ named Ray­mond Rowe, and when po­lice man­aged to get DNA sam­ples from Rowe’s wa­ter bot­tle, it matched the crime scene sam­ples. And in a no­to­ri­ous cold case, the three­decade- old mur­der of eight- year- old April Tins­ley has also ap­peared to have been solved by ge­netic ge­neal­ogy.

Such suc­cesses have in­creased spec­u­la­tion about other un­solved mur­ders where ge­netic ge­neal­ogy could help track down killers. The most in­fa­mous case where it could be used is that of the Zo­diac Killer. This in­di­vid­ual is be­lieved to be re­spon­si­ble for sev­eral mur­ders in the Bay Area of Cal­i­for­nia in the late 1960s, in­clud­ing the shoot­ing of teenagers David Fara­day and Betty Lou Jensen in De­cem­ber 1968. In 1969, the killer sent three letters to lo­cal news­pa­pers de­mand­ing pub­lic­ity. In a fur­ther let­ter, the in­di­vid­ual re­ferred to him­self as the Zo­diac, but de­spite ex­ten­sive po­lice work at the time, his iden­tity has never been es­tab­lished.

Now, though, po­lice in Cal­i­for­nia are try­ing to get a vi­able DNA sam­ple from ev­i­dence taken from the mur­der scenes of vic­tims of the Zo­diac Killer. Any such sam­ple could then be up­loaded to GED­match to see if ge­netic rel­a­tives of the killer could be found. In Vallejo, Cal­i­for­nia – where Michael Mageau and Dar­lene Fer­rin were shot in 1969 – the lo­cal po­lice de­part­ment hopes that en­velopes used by this killer to send letters to me­dia or­gan­i­sa­tions might con­tain saliva from which a DNA pro­file can be ex­tracted. This pro­file would then be up­loaded to an open- source data­base such as GED­match to see if a fam­ily tree can be com­piled.

This is not a fore­gone con­clu­sion given that sam­ples may have been com­pro­mised due to prior mis­han­dling, and it may be that they are not com­plete enough to be used for GED­match pur­poses. In ad­di­tion, DNA test­ing of the en­velopes was pre­vi­ously un­der­taken in 2002 to see if a link could be es­tab­lished to one sus­pect – Arthur Leigh Allen, who had died in 1992. This test came back neg­a­tive, but it was then dis­cov­ered that the DNA sam­ple hadn’t been taken from the most valu­able places – be­hind the stamp or on the en­ve­lope seal. Un­der­tak­ing a new DNA sam­pling ex­er­cise from these places might dis­cover a new link that could then be backed up by ev­i­dence from a ge­nealog­i­cal web­site, which is an ex­cit­ing pos­si­bil­ity.

In a more re­cent case, it is pos­si­ble that even the mur­der of pageant queen JonBenét Ram­sey could be re­vis­ited. JonBenét, aged six, was found stran­gled in the base­ment of her Boul­der, Colorado home in De­cem­ber 1996, and the dis­cus­sion over who killed her, and the prove­nance of a ran­som note sent to her par­ents, has not stopped since. If rel­e­vant DNA sam­ples found on the girl’s body could be up­loaded to GED­match, they might ex­on­er­ate mem­bers of her fam­ily who have been ac­cused or sus­pected of in­volve­ment in her death. It’s clear that ge­netic ge­neal­ogy could help with many un­solved cases where po­lice had pre­vi­ously be­lieved they had reached a dead end.

“Ev­ery day we hear of new de­vel­op­ments on ap­pli­ca­tions of DNA to medicine, and so­ci­ety is def­i­nitely hav­ing prob­lems catch­ing up,” Else told Real Crime. “DNA has al­ready rev­o­lu­tionised the ge­nealog­i­cal world, just as the in­ter­net was the game- changer 15 years ago. How­ever, no­body would want to go back to the old days of ge­neal­ogy, with unin­dexed, vir­tu­ally in­ac­ces­si­ble records in record of­fices that were hard to get to. I think most peo­ple will soon start their fam­ily his­tory re­search with a DNA test – but they will need help from the ge­neal­ogy ed­u­ca­tors to in­ter­pret those tests.”

In the case of the Golden State Killer, the statute of lim­i­ta­tions in Cal­i­for­nia with re­gard to sex crimes means that DeAn­gelo can’t be charged with the rapes he is sus­pected of com­mit­ting in the late 1970s – the statute of lim­i­ta­tions was ten years un­til 2016, and al­though the law was changed then it is not retroac­tive, mean­ing crimes committed prior to 1 Jan­uary 2017 are still sub­ject to the statute. How­ever, DeAn­gelo’s rap sheet has steadily in­creased. He was ini­tially charged with eight mur­ders. That fig­ure now stands at 13.

The con­tin­u­ing suc­cess in iden­ti­fy­ing named sus­pects as a re­sult of ge­neal­ogy data­bases means it is un­likely pri­vacy con­cerns will re­sult in re­stric­tions. In cases where DNA pro­files have been es­tab­lished from crime scenes but not matched with data­bases of known crim­i­nals who have their DNA pro­files on file, it is an­other weapon in the po­lice’s ar­moury that will help to bring dan­ger­ous crim­i­nals to jus­tice and pro­vide the fam­i­lies of vic­tims with clo­sure.

it is posi­ble the mur­der of JonBenÉt ram­sey could be re­vis­ited. jonbenÉt, aged six, was found stran­gled

in the base­ment of her home in De­cem­ber 1996

above Katie and Brian Mag­giore, who were in their early 20s, were chased and shot dead in Fe­bru­ary 1978. They had been tak­ing their dog for a walk at the timebe­low Ran­cho Cor­dova in Sacra­mento County, north­ern Cal­i­for­nia, where the Golden State Killer mur­dered Brian and Katie Mag­giore back in 1978

above The use of pins to mark the lo­ca­tions of at­tacks shows how the East Area Rapist – later known as the Golden State Killer – committed offences in tar­geted ‘ clus­ters’above- Right The FBI pre­vi­ously is­sued a call for in­for­ma­tion in their search for the GSK, who had committed crimes over a decade yet had re­mained a free manbe­low Dur­ing the 1970s, the FBI col­lected var­i­ous ski masks as ev­i­dence as they searched for the East Area Rapist – later known as the Golden State Killer

above- left A Sacra­mento home, bur­gled by the ‘ East Area Rapist’, later known as the Golden State Killer. He usu­ally took coins, jew­ellery and, more wor­ry­ingly, the vic­tims’ iden­ti­fi­ca­tionabove- Right Ev­i­dence found at the scene of one of his crimes in­cluded a knife, zip ties and a torch. The GSK would stake a prop­erty out, break in and stash items for him to use dur­ing his at­tack

Right En­cour­aged by the ar­rest of DeAn­gelo, pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tors in the US – such as Ja­son Jensen, pic­tured here – are now push­ing for fam­ily his­to­ri­ans to up­load their ge­netic in­for­ma­tion to DNA data­basesbe­low DeAn­gelo served as an of­fi­cer of the Ex­eter Po­lice in Cal­i­for­nia from 1973 to 1976 after com­plet­ing 32 weeks of train­ing

be­low- right In April this year, FBI agents and other law en­force­ment of­fi­cials searched the Cit­rus Heights, Cal­i­for­nia, home of 72- yearold Joseph DeAn­gelobe­low- left FBI agents process ev­i­dence found at Joseph DeAn­gelo’s home. He lived a quiet life in Cit­rus Heights but would soon be in court on mur­der charges

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