In Brief

Golden State Killer suspect Joseph DeAngelo traced using genealogy websites

Crime scene DNA was matched to a ‘distant relative’ of suspected serial killer

Investigators trying to identify the Golden State Killer more than 40 years after he first struck used genealogy websites to narrow the scope of the search, Sacramento officials have revealed.

Joseph DeAngelo was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of being the notorious serial rapist and murderer, who committed a string of offences between 1976 and 1986.

Chief deputy district attorney for Sacramento County, Steve Grippi, confirmed that investigators had compared the DNA to information available on genealogy websites, which narrowed the search down to several families.

Investigators began to focus on DeAngelo last Thursday, as he had “lived in areas where the attacks occurred and was in the right age range” the Sacramento Bee says.

Grippi did not name which genealogy service investigators used, and CNN says that four major websites – Ancestry, Vitagene, MyHeritage and 23andMe – “didn't provide customer information to law enforcement officials”.

The Guardian says the use of a genealogy website as part of the search for the Golden State Killer “raises questions about the privacy of individuals who use these DNA databases”.

26 April

Golden State Killer suspect Joseph DeAngelo is former police officer

A former California police officer has been arrested and charged with several counts of murder after a breakthrough in the decades-long Golden State Killer investigation.

Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, was arrested outside his home after investigators matched a DNA sample taken from his home to evidence collected at the scene of the murders of Brian and Kate Maggiore in 1978 and Lyman and Charlene Smith in 1980.

DeAngelo was a police officer in the 1970s, until he was fired in 1979 after he was “accused of shoplifting a hammer and dog repellent” says the Los Angeles Times. He is “suspected of committing some crimes while he was still on the force”.

The Golden State Killer, who was also known at various times as the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker, has been blamed for 12 murders, 45 rapes and at least 120 burglaries between 1976 and 1986, when the case went cold.

The New York Times says he was a “predator with quirks”, who would sometimes place “a teacup and saucer on the bodies of some of his victims” and threaten to murder them if he heard the china rattle.

Recent interest in the case was ignited by the release of Michelle McNamara’s book, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, which was completed with the help of her husband, the actor and comedian Patton Oswald, when McNamara died in 2016.

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