Thoughts on DNA in the News
This past month, Joseph DeAngelo, known most commonly as the Golden
State Killer, plead Guilty to13 murders and 13 rape/ kidnappings. His
DNA was matched to more than 175 crimes where samples were preserved by
law enforcement officials prior to advances that made replication of
minute traces capable of being used to provide a full genetic profile of
the person depositing that DNA. We now know that DNA profile was
uploaded under a fictitious user name to the Gedmatch website and close
matches were utilized to build a family tree that, ultimately led to
identification of DeAngelo as the perpetrator of these heinous crimes.
(A number of his double murders involved the bludgeoning of couples who
had been bound and rendered helpless to his sick rage.)
"DeAngelo pleaded guilty in
Sacramento County Superior Court last week to the 26 crimes he was
formally charged with. He also admitted to 161 offenses he was never
formally accused of because the deadline to prosecute them had long
since passed, Temple said."
SOURCE: Ventura's County Star, 4 July 2020.
The plea agreement was negotiated to serve two purposes: to
avoid a public trial that would expose his still-living victims to
reliving the agony and terrors he had forced upon them, and to ensure a
punishment that would prevent DeAngelo from ever leaving prison for the
balance of his natural life.
The crimes now proven to have been committed by this one
former police officer took place in the 1970s and '80's with many of the
victims who survived his attacks having died since. The monikers
attributed to this prolific madman were initially associated with,
first, the common locations of the crimes and, second, a descriptive
term of the crimes in which he engaged.
THE VISALIA. RANSACKER
Over a hundred break-ins were his first known criminal
activity where homeowners would return to their homes to find them in
complete disarray - drawers and closets open, their contents strewn
throughout, items of jewelry missing having been selected, apparently,
not for their marketable value but for their intrinsic nostalgic value.
This series of crimes earned DeAngelo the nick of the Visalia Ransacker.
A clue to his perversions, however, was evident in his tendency to paw
through, select, and maliciously smear and display feminine lingerie.
THE DIAMOND KNOT RAPIST
His crimes quickly escalated to rapes where the lone female
victims were awakened by a bright flashlight shown in their face by an
intruder wearing a variety of face coverings (ski masks, typically) and
gloves. The trademark knot used to bind these victims earned him the
Diamond Knot Rapist nickname. He later chose to remove his unused,
pre-tied bindings (often heavy shoelaces brought with him.)
THE EAST AREA RAPIST (EAR)
Later, his propensity for targeting victims on the Eastern
suburbs of Sacramento brought on the published alias of the East Area
THE ORIGINAL NIGHT STALKER (ONS)
As his crimes further escalated to violent murders in
connection with his rapes, he was given the name of the Original Night
Stalker in a move to distinguish his killings from those of Richard
Ramirez who carried out his serial killings in Los Angeles and San
Francisco for about a year 1974 - 1975 and was called the Night Stalker.
THE GOLDEN STATE KILLER
It was not until homicide and major crime detectives began to
suspect a lone perpetrator of all these crimes and began to share case
files, evidence, and - most importantly - DNA results, that Michelle
McNamara coined the term the Golden State Killer.
The last horrific bludgeoning death post-rape carried out by
this monster took place in 1986. The victim, Janelle Cruz, was a
gorgeous eighteen-year-old, his last known victim, but certainly not his
youngest. That was a girl only a few weeks beyond her thirteenth
birthday when she was raped, her life spared.
THE JONBENET RAMSEY RAPE-MURDER:
Two prominent names arise when discussing use of DNA results
combined with genealogical research savvy: Paul Holes, whose long law
enforcement career began as a CSI (crime scene investigation) specialist
and morphed into classic criminal investigation as a detective. Paul
Holes was the man who managed to use his combination of skills to
identify John Joseph DeAngelo and arrange his capture.
The other name most commonly associated with this skillset is
CeCe Moore whose interest in genealogy and the emerging science of DNA
led to her changing careers from model, spokesperson, actress to Genetic
Detective. Ms. Moore's expertise began as a researcher and consultant
for such shows as Finding Your Roots, hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
where her focus was on reuniting splintered families due to abandonment
or adoption. More recently, she worked with Parabon NanoLabs to solve
more than 150 cold case crimes of murder and rape-murder in one year.
This led to a television series, Genetic Detective, which aired six
shows in its first season.
Controversy surrounding the use of publicly shared DNA to
identify, capture, try, and imprison these cold, violent rapists and
murderers has caused Gedmatch to change their policy concerning release
of results. Since many, many of these heinous crimes are committed by
persons who have eluded identification through CODIS (*), this change in
policy has had an extreme detrimental effect on its use to bring these
criminals to justice.
Thus, we arrive at my reason for including young six-year-old victim JonBenet Ramsey in this discussion.
This high profile mystery sexual assault murder caused by
instrumental suffocation (asphyxiation by employment of a garrote) has
never been solved. Tens of thousands of man-hours have been expended in
From Wikipedia we find this:
"In 2002, the DA's successor took over
investigation of the case from the police and primarily pursued the
theory that an intruder had committed the killing. In 2003, trace DNA
that was taken from the victim's clothes was found to belong to an
unknown male; each of the family's DNA had been excluded from this
match. The DA sent the Ramseys a letter of apology in 2008, declaring
the family "completely cleared" by the DNA results."
This finding seems to SCREAM for a Genetic Detective to solve
this case!! In spite of my typical leaning toward a more liberal
outlook, in this regard, my years as a paralegal in both criminal
(prosecutorial) and corporate fields of law demand this roadblock to
justice be removed.
Even though Gedmatch has made it far more difficult to
utilize DNA results, perhaps either Paul Holes or CeCe Moore or another
specialist in this emerging field of investigation will choose to take
on this challenge.
(*) CODIS is the acronym for the Combined DNA Index
System and is the generic term used to describe the FBI's program of
support for criminal justice DNA databases as well as the software used
to run these databases.
(SOURCE: FBI.gov website)
A public plea has been issued August 31, 2020, by CeCe Moore, the lady who does the reality TV series, The Genetic Detective, to participate in an effort to assist Parabon Nano Labs in augmenting their DNA base. Here is the announcement:
Do you want to help Parabon
fight crime and advance science? If so, please consider joining the
Snapshot DNA Phenotypic Trait and Ancestry Study. All you need is (1) an
iPhone and (2) a little bit of uninterrupted time to complete the
in-app instructions. If you have an existing genotype file from a
consumer testing site (e.g., 23andMe, AncestryDNA, FamilyTreeDNA, etc.),
you can donate it to the study too and elect to receive a free Snapshot
DNA Ancestry Analysis report. To learn more visit:
https://parabon-nanolabs.com/volunteer/. If you have any questions or
don’t have an iPhone, please check out the FAQs. For questions not
answered in the FAQ's please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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