Former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, was arrested at his Citrus Heights home Tuesday, April 24. The arrest came after DNA linked him to crimes committed by the East Area Rapist / Golden State Killer.
DeAngelo is suspected of at least 12 killings and 50 rapes spreading throughout Northern and Southern California.
DNA used to identify DeAngelo as a suspect in the Golden State Killer case came from a sample submitted by a relative to a genealogy website, according to Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Shaun Hampton and the District Attorney's Office.
The DNA was available in public family trees in an online database and was used to match to samples in rapes committed by the infamous East Area Rapist.
It was not immediately clear from which site investigators obtained the DNA profile, and the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office declined to provide any more information about where or how investigators got it.
Some sites, like 23andMe, which analyze DNA samples sent in by people curious about their genetic makeup and heritage, do not disclose DNA information from samples submitted by their site’s users.
The policy of 23andMe is to resist law enforcement requests to provide DNA samples or information about them, said company spokesman Andy Kill in an email.
“We have had a handful of inquiries over the years, and have never given customer information to law enforcement officials,” he said.