New DNA testing technology is being used to help law enforcement close cold cases. In 2018, suspected serial rapist and murderer, the Golden State Killer, was arrested for crimes committed between 1976 and 1986. The genetic profile of the man who killed 12 people and raped 45 women between 1976 and 1986 was linked to a family member taking an at-home DNA test. These alleged DNA matches are something a skilled defense attorney can argue in the courtroom.
DNA Linked to Local Rape Cases
In December 2019, a Michigan man’s DNA linked him to a series of unsolved rapes in Pinellas County committed 21 years prior. The 1998 and 1999 rape cases went cold when police had a DNA profile match but no suspect to link it to.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FLDE) stored the DNA and in late 2018 implemented the same genetic genealogy mapping technique used by common testing sites. FLDE uses a site called GEDMatch; like Ancestry.com, GEDMatch is open to the public. This includes law enforcement.
How did police catch up to this suspect? The man’s relative in Ocala, FL was found through one of these popular DNA tests. When people buy their DNA test results from a site like Ancestry, they can voluntarily load their profile on to the GEDMatch system. The program is positioned as a way to possibly find distant relatives that may not be using the same testing platform. Seeing that it’s a program designed to fill your family tree, they more than not decide to participate.
In this rape case, the DNA had a distant match to a GEDMatch user in Ocala. The program detected a shared ancestor at the great-great-grandparent level with the suspect. She offered her full cooperation with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office pinpointing who on her family tree could be the match leading to the arrest.
Police detectives eventually identified the suspect and acquired what they claim to be a ‘perfect match to the DNA logged in the 1998 and 1999 rape cases’. The man who only temporarily lived in the Tampa Bay area while working as a contractor was found living in Niles, Michigan. He was arrested on December 12 on armed sexual battery charges.
Defending Against DNA Evidence
DNA evidence can be hard to fight. You need an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you. Our mission as your defense attorney is to mitigate your risk should charges go to trial.
Call Florida board-certified trial attorney, Ben Stechschulte, today to speak about how we can defend you if law enforcement claims to have a DNA match.