It's no secret that my husband and I bit the bullet and jumped into the genetic DNA testing arena, having finally decided that the information benefits outweighed privacy concerns. But of course, when we sumitted our samples, we were "speaking" not only for ourselves but for our blood relatives everywhere, since we share DNA, albeit in varying amounts.

So, family, this is your fair warning to keep your lives clean and stay on the right side of the law. As you can see from this New York Times article (or just Google for it if you can't get in to the NYT), police in California have apprehended a man who they believe is a notorious serial killer/rapist/burglar who commited his crimes in the 1970's and 80's. They cracked the case by matchng a sample from one of the crimes to DNA some of his ftamily members had submitted to a genealogical database.

Sure, it tweaks my privacy-concern buttons a bit, and even more so my Big-Brother-is-watching-you fears, but I sure am glad the guy was finally caught. But this is what concerns me most of all:

Mr. DeAngelo will not be charged for a series of rapes authorities believe he committed in the Sacramento area in the late 1970s because the statute of limitations has expired.

There's a statute of limitations for rape? How can that possibly be?

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at 11:55 am | Edit
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There's no statue of limitations for rape. Even if there were, somebody would sue to take it down.

Posted by Stephan on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at 4:21 pm

Until 2016, when the law changed, rape cases in California generally had to be prosecuted within 10 years, though apparently even then exceptions could be made if new DNA evidence turned up. I'd call this new DNA evidence! My guess is that they have enough to prosecute him for, so they're only going to bother with the best cases.

Posted by SursumCorda on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at 5:00 pm

Statue vs. Statute.
I think Stephan is busting your chops.

Posted by dstb on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at 6:48 pm

I haven't given this a ton of thought, but for some reason I am less bothered by what the police did here - basically acting like someone submitting their DNA and looking for matches - than if they specifically asked for a warrant to get my DNA results.

Posted by dstb on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at 6:50 pm

Ah, yes, of course. Hasty writing of the post + hasty reading of the comment = trouble. Fixed now.

Posted by SursumCorda on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at 8:02 pm

The Golden State Killer is accused of a dozen murders and almost fifty rapes. How many of these would not have occurred if GEDmatch had been around forty years ago? Of course if GEDmatch had been around and the police weren't allowed to use it or people were too worried about privacy, etc. then all of them would still have happened.

Posted by Donald Sigwalt on Sunday, April 29, 2018 at 7:27 am

I agree with you on this one, Don, and I know that—whether we read the fine print or not—when we sign up for almost any service, genealogical or not, we're acknowledging that law enforcement with proper authority can get our data, not to mention that just about anyone can get our data if we make it public. Red light cameras and CCTV are also very helpful in catching criminals.

Nonetheless, there's a reason we hedge the power of our authorities. And I see all around me people eager to give up their liberties (and those of their children) for the sake of perceived improvements in safety—from the Patriot Act to boring playground equipment—and it concerns me. Not to mention the fact that when we give out our information, especially DNA information, we are making that choice not only for ourselves but for other people as well.

Posted by SursumCorda on Sunday, April 29, 2018 at 8:14 am
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