Segments in this Video

DNA Identification (03:36)


A commercial DNA database led to the arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo, the Golden State Killer. It was the first time police used genetic genealogy in a criminal investigation. Police now solve thousands of cold cases using the technique.

Golden State Killer (05:10)

DeAngelo terrorized California for years, as a serial rapist and killer. Paul Holes was one of the investigators who worked on the case. Despite the efforts of law enforcement, DeAngelo remained free for decades.

DNA Databases (03:09)

Holes began working with genealogist Barbara Rae-Vetter to find the Golden State Killer through a family member's DNA. Millions of people have submitted their DNA to genealogy or family history sites, like Holes found distance relatives through a database.

Identifying DeAngelo (03:12)

Holes found DeAngelo through the DNA database days before his retirement. The FBI and Sacramento police put DeAngelo under surveillance and matched his DNA to a sample of the Golden State Killer's.

Genetic Genealogy (02:51)

Cece Moore invented the technique used by detectives. She helps law enforcement solve about one case a week. It began as a hobby and volunteer work of comparing DNA profiles.

April Tinsley Case (07:32)

Moore created the first genetic genealogy service and began working with law enforcement. She helped Fort Wayne, Indiana investigators solve the 31-year cold case in four days.

DNA Portraits (05:26)

Experts need only 3% of the population's DNA to find a match for any sample. Director of Bioinfomatics Ellen Greytak can create a computer-generated photo of a suspect using a DNA sample.

DNA Profiling (06:00)

Profiling has become a common practice in the United States. Attorney Rhiya Trivedi claims the New York City Police Department used false DNA profiling to charge Chanel Lewis with murder. She believes Lewis' DNA was on the victim's body because of genetic transfer.

Abortion and DNA (04:51)

Yveka Pierre is a women's right lawyer working to protect abortion access. People have used DNA testing to track down women who experienced pregnancy losses.

Social Control and DNA (06:43)

Hong Kong has used DNA from littered items to post generated sketches of people as part of a shame campaign. Many governments already have large databases of citizens' DNA that they could use in a similar way. Some databases have poor security and are subject to leaks.

Insurance and DNA (04:46)

An anonymous insurance industry worker says insurers are looking at DNA to make decisions about coverage. DNA can show a person's probability of developing certain conditions and the likelihood of an early death.

Credits: "DNA: The End of Crime" (00:38)

Credits: "DNA: The End of Crime"

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DNA: The End of Crime

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It was a landmark achievement with the implication to solve any crime. In March 2018, US police tracked down the Golden State serial killer, who had gone undetected for 40 years, by identifying members of his family on a commercial DNA database. It was the first time investigative genetic genealogy had been used to crack a case and helped spawn a new discipline. Since then, genetic genealogy has been used to catch nearly 300 killers. If the DNA profiles of just 3% of the population are on a database, you can find anyone. A point already reached in the United States and China. But as DNA can easily become contaminated or transferred, DNA profiles have also led to people being wrongly convicted. And there are wider implications at stake. When the remains of a 20-week-old foetus were found in the sewer in Georgia, the police analyzed the DNA of the foetus, and, with genetic genealogy, tracked down the mother. Faced with a public outcry following her arrest, charges were dropped. But since then, another two other women whose pregnancies also ended in unclear circumstances have been tracked down through genetic genealogy. In Hong Kong, DNA taken from cigarette butts was used to identify and publicly shame litterers. So who should have access to these datatbases? And under what circumstances?

Length: 55 minutes

Item#: BVL282230

ISBN: 979-8-88678-472-5

Copyright date: ©2022

Closed Captioned

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