DNA on a Genealogy Website Helped Snare Golden State Killer

Distant relative of suspect submitted sample
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 27, 2018 5:03 AM CDT
This undated law enforcement photo provided by the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office shows Joseph James DeAngelo.   (Sacramento County Sheriff's Office via AP)
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(Newser) – A distant relative of Joseph James DeAngelo hoping to learn more about their family submitted a DNA sample to a genealogy website. They now know that they're related to a suspected serial killer. Police say they tracked the suspected Golden State Killer by comparing DNA from one of his many crime scenes to genetic information freely available online, the Sacramento Bee reports. They traced family trees for possible suspects and singled out DeAngelo, a 72-year-old ex-cop, last Thursday. Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert says DeAngelo was placed under surveillance, and DNA collected from discarded items provided "astronomical evidence" that he was the killer.

Schubert tells the Bee that when she was informed of the DNA test results, "I probably used a few words I wouldn't put in a newspaper, but basically said, 'You'd better not be lying to me.'" She adds: "There were a lot of holy s--- moments." DeAngelo was arrested outside his home Tuesday. The San Jose Mercury News reports that investigators used the open-source genealogy website GEDMatch.com to search for the suspect who committed 12 murders and more than 50 rapes between 1974 and 1986. Other genealogy websites, including Ancestry.com and 23andMe, say they weren't contacted by police about the case and that they never provide customer information to law enforcement unless they're legally compelled to. (Neighbors describe DeAngelo as a "nice old grandpa" obsessed with lawn care.)

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