2018/09/19: DeAngelo was found using GEDMatch, a website that pools user-uploaded genetic profiles from other genealogy websites. GEDMatch exists “to provide DNA and genealogy tools for comparison and research services” and has an open-source database of 650,000 genetically connected profiles. DeAngelo, who evaded capture for decades, was meticulous in his crime scenes and certainly did not upload his DNA to a website in the hopes of uncovering his ancestry. But a third cousin of his did.
“The privacy concerns raised by the Golden State Killer investigation don’t disappear just because GEDmatch, the genealogical database investigators reportedly used, was a public site. In fact, investigators’ decision to upload a detailed genetic profile generated from crime-scene DNA to a public website likely violated the alleged perpetrator’s privacy rights,” Vera Eidelman of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post. “Even if DeAngelo is found guilty of the crimes he is accused of, penalties for such crimes do not typically entail releasing a person’s entire genetic makeup. People may not be so troubled by such an intrusion when it comes to a serial killer, but imagine the implications of using this technique for shoplifters or trespassers.”