Commercially available DNA test kits are an excellent resource for people interested in their family's genealogy, but they're possibly an even greater resource for detectives working on unsolved murder cases. When the services first hit the market, people rushed to find out if their ancestors really were from Ireland or perhaps a more exotic locale. Most didn't read the fine print to realize their voluntary donations to DNA databases could also be used by genealogy sites to help catch killers.
By uploading crime scene samples to the volunteer-run DNA database GEDmatch, police can use the information to identify relatives of individuals who may not show up in criminal DNA databases. Cooperation between genealogy sites and investigators provides the details needed to re-create a family tree and pinpoint new suspects. The procedure has led to closure in many cold cases, but has also raised concerns about mistakes and privacy.
GEDmatch Formally Bridged The Gap Between Criminal And Civilian DNA Databases
Techniques For Finding Killers Also Help Find Biological Parents
A Distant Relative Led To The Golden State KillerPhoto: Sacramento County Sheriff's Office
The Database Helped Uncover The True Identity Of A New Hampshire Serial KillerPhoto: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office
30 Years Later, Familial DNA Solved A Double Homicide
Police Solved A Middle School Teacher's 1992 Murder And Sexual AssaultPhoto: Lancaster County District Attorney