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posted by martyb on Monday June 04 2018, @12:12PM   Printer-friendly
from the should-not-leave-your-DNA-lying-around-where-others-can-find-it dept.

https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2018/06/02/us/golden-state-killer-unsealed-warrants/index.html

When the suspected Golden State Killer drove into a Hobby Lobby parking lot in April, investigators were waiting nearby. As he walked into the craft store, it gave them a perfect chance to collect a secret DNA sample.

Police swabbed the driver's side handle of [the suspect's] car, according to arrest and search warrants released Friday.

Authorities sent it for testing and matched it to semen recovered at some of the Golden State Killer's crime scenes, the arrest warrant said.

[...] The stop at the Hobby Lobby was just one of several ways investigators used to zero in on a suspect. Earlier this year, police tracked him down by comparing genetic profiles from genealogy websites to crime scene DNA, according to investigators.

On April 23, a day before his arrest, police say they collected multiple samples from a trash can outside DeAngelo's home in Citrus Heights, a town 16 miles northeast of Sacramento. They had watched the home for three days, the warrant said.

Previously: DNA From Genealogy Site Led to Capture of Golden State Killer Suspect
GEDmatch: "What If It Was Called Police Genealogy?"


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  • (Score: 4, Informative) by AthanasiusKircher on Monday June 04 2018, @04:01PM (2 children)

    by AthanasiusKircher (5291) on Monday June 04 2018, @04:01PM (#688418) Journal

    The fact that they were collecting that DNA in the first place implies that they already thought they'd found the right guy, presumably because of prior evidence and/or witness statements.

    Are you sure about that? The coverage I've read (admittedly not a lot) has implied this case was basically solely solved through DNA. And they went after the wrong people [washingtonpost.com] first, surreptitiously taking DNA in questionable ways:

    The use of genetic websites in the hunt for the Golden State Killer also led investigators to misidentify a potential suspect last year, according to court records obtained by the Associated Press on Friday. The daughter of a 73-year-old Oregon City man said authorities swabbed her father for DNA in a nursing home without her knowledge.

    That guy didn't pan out, so they tried a different online DNA database (from my link above):

    The suspected Golden State Killer was not in this database, either, but it didn’t matter. A distant relative of his was, police say, and that person’s DNA partially matched evidence related to the serial killer. Instantly, the pool of suspects shrank from millions of people down to a single family.

    Detectives then used traditional investigative techniques to narrow the family members down to one suspect: DeAngelo, a 72-year-old former police officer who lived within a few miles of many of the attacks.

    So, yeah, there were "traditional investigative techniques" used after that, but it's unclear what all that entailed. It could have been as little as "Of relatives to this DNA match person, who lives near the attacks? Who's in the right age group?"

    Then, it sounds like they went through his garbage, got some DNA. Then they swabbed his car at Hobby Lobby, and got a complete match.

    To me, at least from the way it's been presented publicly so far, it sounds like 97% of the investigation was likely DNA-based. Sure, there will now be corroborating evidence (hopefully) based on things they figured out once they had an idea of who it was. But actually finding the "right guy" sounds like it was almost all based on DNA.

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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by frojack on Monday June 04 2018, @06:34PM

    by frojack (1554) on Monday June 04 2018, @06:34PM (#688484) Journal

    So, yeah, there were "traditional investigative techniques" used after that, but it's unclear what all that entailed. It could have been as little as "Of relatives to this DNA match person, who lives near the attacks? Who's in the right age group?"

    Exactly.

    But they had a complete semen DNA sample from back in the day. They had already been able to reduce the pool to specific racial profile, as well as other genetic markers. They weren't interested in huge swaths of the population by that point. So they submitted it to the DNA service INTENTIONALLY to gain a familial match, which is what this service specialized in. This was the only real "Hail Mary" play in the whole investigation.

    Once you know it is a relative of a particular person (himself too young to be involved) you work outward from there.
    Standard police work. Forget the Females, Eliminate the males one by one, wrong age, not present at the time, DNA already in (one of the) systems, already dead, already in custody, bats for the other team.

    By this time you've probably got it down to less than 10. (swag).

    Then start collecting DNA. Maybe you just ASK those you least suspect.
    Maybe you dig through trash, watch for publicly discarded items.

    I'd guess by that time you are down to two or three people.

    There is a LOT of this case that is just dogged police work.

     

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  • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Monday June 04 2018, @09:24PM

    by FatPhil (863) <{pc-soylent} {at} {asdf.fi}> on Monday June 04 2018, @09:24PM (#688582) Homepage
    > it sounds like 97% of the investigation was likely DNA-based

    But only one bit of that was the swab from the car.
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