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Crime & Justice

How authorities used DNA, public genealogy website to track down the ‘Golden State Killer’




Law enforcement officials leave the home of accused rapist and killer Joseph James DeAngelo on April 24, 2018 in Citrus Heights, California.
Law enforcement officials leave the home of accused rapist and killer Joseph James DeAngelo on April 24, 2018 in Citrus Heights, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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Sacramento investigators were able to track down the suspected “Golden State Killer,” decades after the crime, using DNA from public genealogical websites, the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office confirmed Thursday.

A relative’s genetic information posted on the genealogy website GEDmatch led police to Joseph James DeAngelo, according to the Sacramento Bee.

People using the website publicly share their genetic information which eliminates legal hurdles for investigators trying to crack cases. Unlike other DNA websites, including Ancestry and 23andMe, authorities would have harder time accessing private information.

DeAngelo, 72, was arrested Tuesday outside his home in Sacramento. He is accused of killing 12 people and raping more than 50 women in the 1970s and 80s.

Guest:

Sam Stanton, reporter for the Sacramento Bee; he broke the story about cops using genealogy websites to track down the Golden State Killer; he tweets @StantonSam