How New DNA Technology Captured a Killer

72 year old Golden State Killer suspect Joseph James DeAngelo was captured by police using newly updated DNA tracing technology that virtually assures that anyone who has left a cup or a napkin in a trash can can be identified, whether they agree to it or not. And whether they want to be identified or not.

In DeAngelo’s case, a technology startup called GEDmatch was used by California police to identify DNA that led first to some distant relatives of DeAngelo, and then took detectives directly to his door just outside of Sacramento. DNA from some of the original crimesites of thirty years ago, long thought to have deteriorated too much to be of any use in the newly opened investigation, was reconstructed by GEDmatch with the latest chemical/molecular technology and was identified as an exact match to DeAngelo’s DNA.

DeAngelo, now in custody with no bail, stands accused of more than a dozen heinous murders and dozens of rapes during a rampage that went from Sacramento to Bakersfield, leaving police baffled but believing that the perpetrator was both trained as a soldier and as a police officer. The so-called Golden State Killer always left an escape route open during his operations, and when police would close in on him he was able to slip away without ever being identified.

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