'Golden State Killer' was caught using a genealogy website, police reveal

'Golden State Killer' was caught using a genealogy website, police revealThe suspect in the notorious "Golden State Killer" case was found with the help of genealogy websites, police have revealed. For decades the man behind a spate of murders and rapes in California in the 1970s and 1980s Рdubbed the "Golden State Killer" Рhad evaded capture until the dramatic arrest of a suspect this week. Joseph DeAngelo, 72, was arrested at his home and charged with eight counts of murder and could face dozens more charges after DNA evidence linked him to the crimes, authorities said. Californian police have revealed that genealogy websites used to trace family ancestry helped narrow their search for the serial killer. Prosecutor Steve Grippi said investigators compared the DNA they had from the crime scenes to genetic information uploaded to websites by people who were searching for relatives or ancestors. This helped officers to focus on a few individuals, which was further narrowed down by profiling techniques. Police then watched DeAngelo, himself a former police officer, for several days for an opportunity to collect his DNA, which matched him to the crimes. The FBI reward offer for the Golden State Killer Credit: FBI The officers declined to reveal which particular websites they used or who the matching DNA belonged to, but it is likely that a relative of DeAngelo's had been using one of the sites. The revelation has raised privacy concerns for the millions of people who provide their DNA to ancestry websites. According to legal experts, there are no stringent privacy laws to prevent police from searching ancestry websites' databases.  Joseph DeAngelo, a former police officer, had evaded capture for decades Credit: Sacramento Sheriff/Twitter "People who submit DNA for ancestors testing are unwittingly becoming genetic informants on their innocent family,"  said Steve Mercer, the chief attorney for the forensic division of the Maryland Office of the Public Defender. Mr Mercer added that they "have fewer privacy protections than convicted offenders whose DNA is contained in regulated databanks". The Golden State Killer, also known as the "East Area Rapist" and "Original Nightstalker," is suspected of carrying out at least 12 murders and 45 rapes in California between 1976 and 1986. The armed and masked prowler would sneak in through windows at night and surprised sleeping victims who ranged in age from 13 to 41. The breakthrough arrest caused a media storm in the US Credit: AP When encountering a couple, he was known to tie up the man and pile dishes on his back. He threatened to kill both victims if he heard plates crash to the floor while he raped the woman. He then ransacked the house, taking souvenirs, notably coins and jewellery before fleeing on foot or bicycle. The spree of attacks terrorised communities in Sacramento, San Francisco and other parts of California. Despite an outpouring of thousands of tips over the years, DeAngelo's name had not been on authorities' radar before last week, said Anne Marie Schubert, the Sacramento County district attorney. "We knew we were looking for a needle in a haystack, but we also knew that needle was there," she said. "It was right here in Sacramento."



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