Genetic genealogy has become a boon to crime investigators

Most people have heard of genetic genealogy in relation to crime-solving.

In recent years, investigators across the nation have used DNA evidence from cold cases to develop profiles, then trace the family links they reveal to identify potential suspects.

The Golden State Killer case is perhaps the most well-known. California investigators were able to identify a former police officer, Joseph DeAngelo, as a suspect in a brutal series of burglaries, rapes and murders across multiple jurisdictions during the 1970s and 1980s.

DeAngelo pleaded guilty to 13 counts of murder, and admitted to the commission of series of rapes and burglaries.

Before the DNA evidence was developed and traced to him, he had not been considered a suspect in the case.

GENETIC GENEALOGY: 'DNA Search Angel' now helps others solve family mysteries through genetic genealogy

CeCe Moore, who founded the DNA Detectives Facebook group where many people share advice and support for searching families, told Wired magazine in 2019 that as soon as the break in the Golden State Killer case was announced, she knew genetic genealogy had been used to find him.

She was working as a genetic genealogy researcher on the PBS show "Finding Your Roots," and she had a consulting business where she helped adoptees find biological parents. She regularly used GEDMatch in her work.

In the weeks after the GSK announcement, she'd been hired by Parabon NanoLabs. Parabon had been known for using DNA to create facial reconstructions. The lab created a "snapshot" of what an unidentified murder victim found in 1997 in Marshall County looked like using DNA.

According to Parbon's website, since May 2018, the company has identified 210 persons of interests through forensic DNA research.

AmberJean Hyde of Gadsden used her detective skills to find her mother's grandmother and father, and has found a passion in helping others find lost family members.

She's interested in taking the skills she's honed to another arena such as criminal investigation. She said she would love to work with law enforcement agencies to help bring criminals to justice in unsolved cases, just as she resolves family mysteries for the friends she makes through genetic genealogy sites on social media.

This article originally appeared on The Gadsden Times: How DNA research has helped solve cold cases