Catch a Killer with your DNA

Oct 3, 2019

Ever since police used genetic genealogy to crack the famous Golden State Killer case, this new crime fighting tool has solved dozens of murders and rapes that had gone cold for decades. Our show looks at the promise and perils of this powerful tool that combines DNA science with genealogy.

We start with the murder of a young couple in Canada more than 30 years ago. This was the first case after the Golden State Killer to employ genetic genealogy, and the person who identified the suspect walks us through how she did it.

We then hear a cautionary tale from a man who was misidentified as a murder suspect by an early version of genetic genealogy, and discuss the constitutional and privacy issues raised by this technology.

Despite its power, genetic genealogy finds itself at a crossroads. The technology is heavily dependent on police having access to databases controlled by consumer DNA companies, and there’s a debate going on as to how open those sites should be to law enforcement.