AUSTIN, Texas - After more than 40 years, police are praising modern forensics, and better technology for helping catch the suspected Golden State Killer.
"It was always going to be DNA that solved this case. So that was ultimately, any investigation, that's where it was ultimately going to lead, " said Sheriff Scott Jones, Sacramento County, last week.
One of the ways police nabbed 72-year-old Joseph DeAngelo was through a third party DNA database. Police obtained DNA from DeAngelo, and they plugged his information into a site called GEDmatch.
“His DNA matched other people. That is how they contacted the other people and found out who this person was,” said Jane Schwendinger, past president of the Austin Genealogical Society.
The thought of authorities having access to your DNA is worrisome for some, but not for Schwendinger. She developed an interest in genealogy decades ago and will continue to use websites like GEDmatch, and Family Tree DNA.
“I think if you're concerned about privacy you need to stay off the internet, because there's so much out there. The FBI is not going to be looking for people who committed minor crimes because I'm sure it was very expensive and time consuming,” said Schwendinger.
DNA testing has come a long way.
“It's made a huge difference. When my mother started genealogy she would write to different places around the country and get a snail mail letter back. Now we go on the internet and do the research,” said Schwendinger.
GEDmatch says they did not have any idea police were sorting through their database for leads. They did release this statement saying in part:
"While the database was created for genealogical research, it is important that GEDmatch participants understand the possible uses of their DNA, including identification of relatives that have committed crimes or were victims of crimes…"
“I'm happy the DNA was used to finally capture this person, that genealogy played a role,” said Schwendinger.