It's not the that of it that anyone has an issue with since the better part of ourselves always desires justice, it's the how - namely, the police use of a genealogy website GEDMatch to go from point A (the killer's DNA sample found at two murder scenes) to point B (a relative's match) to lead back to point A. For nearly seven years, cold case expert and retired Contra Costa County District Attorney inspector Paul Holes searched genealogy websites for DNA matches to evidence collected at the crime scenes, according to The Mercury News.
Sacramento investigators have revealed this tactic helped identify former police officer Joseph DeAngelo as the man accused of killing 12 people and raping 45 women, between 1978 and 1986. He entered the information among 189,000 profiles at the genealogy website, YSearch.org, and the results led to a relative of the OR man.
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"This is an individual that [has] stressers in his life, people in his normal life make him angry and when that happens, he ends up taking his anger out on victims, ... and the instance where he is saying 'I hate you Bonnie, I hate you Bonnie, ' - obviously, Bonnie is making him upset at that moment in time", Holes said.
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That means that investigators didn't need a warrant to search for matches on DeAngelo's DNA.
Investigators lacked DNA evidence so Snelling's death and the burglaries weren't included in the tally of Golden State Killer crimes but fingerprints and shoe tracks will be reviewed for matches to DeAngelo, Visalia Police Chief Jason Salazar said. "I think DNA is unbelievable and if you've done something wrong you don't deserve to be protected".
The woman, an amateur genealogist, cooperated, but ultimately investigators determined none of her relatives were viable suspects, she said. He added that the sites "have fewer privacy protections than convicted offenders whose DNA is contained in regulated databanks". Critics of the investigative approach, however, warned it could jeopardize privacy rights.
"Broadly speaking, it's our policy to resist all law enforcement inquiries to protect customer privacy", the company said in a statement.
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In the case of the Golden State Killer, the public DNA database provided valuable information, but it presents an ethical problem that should lead any person considering genealogical searches to be wary of its consequences. "Our platform is private, and does not support the comparison of genetic data processed by any third party to genetic profiles within our database".
DeAngelo has not entered a plea. He was charged with 8 counts of murder, and more charges are expected to come later.
Holes said he was glad he didn't knock on DeAngelo's door that day, as events might have taken a violent turn.
But he was stunned to find out the man arrested was DeAngelo, his former brother-in-law.
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Huddle's brother, James Huddle, told Oxygen.com that DeAngelo was a "good father" who never showed anything sinister in his behavior, although he said DeAngelo once asked him about the serial rapes in the '70s.