“There’s al­ways evil peo­ple”

Pod­caster Mike Mor­ford says ge­netic ge­neal­ogy won’t stop crime, but it will help solve it

Real Crime - - Joseph Deangelo -

In your opin­ion, how is ge­netic ge­neal­ogy, or foren­sic ge­neal­ogy, chang­ing the way in which po­lice in­ves­ti­gate crimes, es­pe­cially cold cases?

Foren­sic ge­neal­ogy is the way of the fu­ture in crime fighting and solv­ing. There are very few ‘ per­fect’ crimes, and usu­ally, the per­pe­tra­tor has left be­hind some­thing that can be used to iden­tify him. With Joseph DeAn­gelo, he left a lot of DNA, and sci­ence, emerg­ing tech­nol­ogy and good old­fash­ioned po­lice work came to­gether to catch him. That has created a blue­print for other in­ves­ti­ga­tors of un­solved cold cases with DNA ev­i­dence, and in re­cent months many of those in­ves­ti­ga­tors have taken that in­for­ma­tion and run with it to iden­tify crim­i­nals who have eluded them for years.

What are the eth­i­cal im­pli­ca­tions of this kind of work? Are peo­ple you’ve talked to or who have com­mu­ni­cated with you con­cerned about po­ten­tial pri­vacy is­sues?

The eth­i­cal im­pli­ca­tions of this kind of work re­main to be de­ter­mined, but the en­tire process, when done cor­rectly and eth­i­cally, is very ef­fec­tive. How­ever, some fear there is a ‘ Big Brother’ feel to the en­tire sub­ject of DNA and ge­neal­ogy.

Some are re­luc­tant to add their DNA to an open source DNA data­base, seem­ingly con­vinced that some­how it will be mis­used.

On a per­sonal level, my think­ing is, if you haven’t done any­thing wrong, why would you care if it helps iden­tify a mon­ster? How can you not get on board with want­ing to get these peo­ple off the street? As an ad­vo­cate for vic­tims of crime and their fam­i­lies, who de­serve jus­tice, I am happy to en­dorse the use of ge­netic ge­neal­ogy.

What are the cold cases you’d love to see solved us­ing ge­netic ge­neal­ogy?

That’s a great ques­tion – the Zo­diac Killer, for sure. It’s one of Amer­ica’s big­gest true crime mys­ter­ies, one that has fas­ci­nated peo­ple for the past 50 years. How­ever, I have so many cases I hope to see solved – older ones, like the 1975 mur­der of Lindy Sue Biech­ler in Penn­syl­va­nia, or newer ones, such as the 2017 mur­ders of Lib­erty Ger­man and Abi­gail Wil­liams in Del­phi, In­di­ana. There will al­ways be evil peo­ple com­mit­ting evil crimes, but it would be re­fresh­ing for them not to es­cape iden­ti­fi­ca­tion for decades.

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