THE GOLDEN STATE KILLER IS TRACKED THROUGH A THICKET OF DNA…AND THE EXPERTS SHUDDER AT WHAT THEY MAY FIND NEXT! WHAT THEY KNOW IS THAT JOSEPH JAMES DEANGELO WAS ARRESTED IN SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA, AND CHARGED WITH SEVERAL COUNTS OF MURDER.
The arrest of this suspect has set off alarms among some scientists and ethicists worried DNA may be widely accessed by law enforcement, since becoming a consumer issue.
Genetic testing services have become enormously popular with people looking for long-lost relatives or clues to hereditary diseases. Most never imagined that one day intimate pieces of their DNA could be mined to assist police detectives in criminal cases.
Even as scientific experts applauded this week’s arrest of the Golden State Killer suspect, Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, some expressed unease on Friday at reports that detectives in California had used a public genealogy database to identify him. Privacy and ethical issues glossed over in the public’s rush to embrace DNA databases are now glaringly apparent, they said.
“This is really tough,” said Malia Fullerton, an ethicist at the University of Washington who studies DNA forensics. “He is a horrible man and it is good that he was identified, but does the end justify the means?”
Coming so quickly on the heels of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which Facebook data on more than 70 million users was shared without their permission, it is beginning to dawn on consumers that even their most intimate digital data — their genetic profiles — may be passed around in ways they never intended.
“There is a whole generation that says, ‘I don’t really care about privacy,’” said Peter Neufeld, a co-founder of The Innocence Project, which uses DNA to exonerate people who were wrongly convicted. “And then they do, once there is a Cambridge Analytica. No one has thought about what are the possible consequences.
The trail of the Golden State Killer had gone cold decades ago. The police had linked him to more than fifty (50) rapes and twelve murders (12) from 1976 to 1986, and he had eluded all attempts to find him.
In the years since, scientists have developed powerful tools to identify people by tiny variations in their DNA, as individual as fingerprints. At the same time, the F.B.I. and state law enforcement agencies have been cultivating growing databases of DNA not just from convicted criminals, but also in some cases from people accused of crimes.
The California police had the Golden State Killer’s DNA and recently found an unusually well-preserved sample from one of the crime scenes. The problem was finding a match. But these days DNA is stored in many places, and a near-match ultimately was found in a genealogy website beloved by hobbyists called GEDmatch, created by two volunteers in 2011.
Anyone can set up a free profile on GEDmatch. Many customers upload to the site DNA profiles they have already generated on larger commercial sites like 23andMe.
The detectives in the Golden State Killer case uploaded the suspect’s DNA sample. But they would have had to check a box online certifying that the DNA was their own or belonged to someone for whom they were legal guardians, or that they had “obtained authorization” to upload the sample.
“The purpose was to make these connections and to find these relatives,” said Blaine Bettinger, a lawyer affiliated with GEDmatch. “It was not intended to be used by law enforcement to identify suspects of crimes.”
But joining for that purpose does not technically violate site policy, he added.
Erin Murphy, a law professor at New York University and expert on DNA searches, said that using a fake identity might raise questions about the legality of the evidence. The matches found in GEDmatch were to relatives of the suspect, not the suspect himself. On GEDmatch, “it just happens they got lucky,” said Dr. Ashley Hall, a forensics science expert at the University of Illinois in Chicago.
GINA KOLATA and HEATHER MURPHY
Email to: email@example.com
June 3, 2018
Re: Joseph James DeAngelo, Jr.
Dear Ms. Howard: I am the author of over thirty books. I will soon be 76 years of age, I am a convicted felon in a white collar case in Kentucky, I did sixty one months at Leavenworth, etal for something I did not do. I am no stranger to the system and do not accept, at face value, anything presented by a District Attorney. Mr. DeAngelo has you... but are you like so many other Public Defenders...simply out to "cut a deal?" If not, I can help with a book which will impact the social media. The book, presented as factual from the viewpoint of Joseph James DeAngelo, one of the justice systems own? Is there a tacit message in this salient fact? He would not be the first cop to be taken down by the system!
I want to write the real story with an inside view which will not be corrupted by a system infected with and by the wounds of rogue judges and overzealous prosecutors who flaunt the law and the rights of those not yet tried and convicted. I want your opinion and your best judgment for freeing your client, if that best judgment believes the client to be not guilty!
Please let me help you...together we can write..."the rest of the story."
Recent Book on Barnes&Noble (Somewhere a Tree Grows) by Kipling Keats de Magi (aka Welby Thomas Cox, Jr.)
The most disturbing parts of the 171-page warrant for the Golden State Killer suspect
On Friday, a judge unsealed parts of the arrest warrant for Joseph DeAngelo — the 72-year-old former police officer who is accused of committing serial rape and murder across California beginning40 years ago.
The heavily redacted document describes how police finally found the Golden State Killer suspect by his DNA — tracking DeAngelo through a genealogy website and rooting through his trash.
But the majority of the warrant documents — seventy pages — are devoted to retelling those long-ago crimes. It’s a remarkable document, even if much of it is blacked out: a chronicle of a serial predator who traveled invisibly, attacked fearlessly and terrorized many victims with strange noises and bizarre drawings before closing in for the kill.
The Golden State Killer is one of the most prolific predators in U.S. history, sometimes invading different houses on consecutive nights, sometimes returning to the same neighborhood so often that the people who lived there slept in shifts. He terrorized the suburbs of Sacramento, and, later in his spree, near Los Angeles, hundreds of miles to the south.
Again and again, the police affidavit mentions homes that back onto drainage channels, or back onto river levees, suggesting that the killer may have used the terrain to remain invisible — until he was ready for his victims to see him.
One victim woke in the middle of the night to the sound of wind chimes, police wrote. She looked out her bedroom window and saw a man trying to pry off the screen.
One woman was lying in bed with her 3-year-old son when she heard the hallway light switch on. Another woke at 2 a.m. to a bright light shining straight into her face.
Sometimes, the Golden State Killer came silently, but often he seemed unconcerned with the clatter of his approach. And for too many victims, knowing that he was coming was not enough for them to escape.
One woman, alerted to a suspicious vehicle in the neighborhood, “walked through her house, checking the doors,” police wrote. “When she turned around the suspect was standing there with a gun pointed at her.”
Another — the same woman who had waked to a man trying to pull off her window screen — woke up her daughters and ran to her phone to call for help. Before she could dial, she heard a curtain rod fall to the floor, then looked up to see a man’s silhouette standing in front of her.
Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, charged with murder in connection with a string of rapes and killings across California attributed to the "Golden State Killer" made.
Though most of the attacks described in the affidavit are heavily redacted, what’s left reads like a compendium of horror stories.
Take the second known attack, at a house near Sacramento on the early morning of July 16, 1976.
The man who lived there woke before dawn to go to work. He heard footsteps outside, in the back, by the pool.
“He heard another noise a few minutes later, but didn’t investigate,” the affidavit reads.
It was still dark outside at 5 a.m. when the man walked into his garage and hit the button to open the door.
As the door began to open, he heard footsteps again.
In the gap between the floor of the garage and slowly yawning door, a pair of hiking boots appeared. The man noticed that the soles of the boots looked unusually thick.
And then the man in boots was ducking under the garage door, coming straight at him. He wore a ski mask and gloves, and carried some sort of makeshift club.
The homeowner tried to get into his car, but there wasn’t time before blows came crashing down on his head and body. He crawled under the vehicle to escape them.
The intruder tried to yank him out, pulling the man’s pants halfway off in the struggle. Then he left, taking nothing but the man’s wallet before he disappeared.
The man had been relatively fortunate. His daughter had moved out a few weeks before the attack, police wrote.
But the Golden State Killer returned to the neighborhood the next night — to a house a few blocks away, where he found two teenage sisters asleep.
The murders of Brian and Katie Maggiore in February 1978 marked a dark shift in the attacker’s habits. While it’s possible that he had killed or tried to kill before then (see below), he would stop leaving any victims alive shortly after he gunned down the married couple as they walked their dog in the Cordova Meadows subdivision, outside Sacramento.
Some have suggested that these first killings were haphazard — lacking the meticulous planning, brutally personal violence and sexual sadism of the Golden State Killer’s subsequent killings. But a police detective researched 30,000 criminal reports leading up to the Maggiores’ deaths and included in the affidavit a disturbing pattern of incidents in Cordova Meadows, almost as a prelude to the deaths.
A young couple in the neighborhood told police they had come home one night, several weeks before the murders, to find their house broken into. Only the wife’s underwear was missing. When they were broken into a second time, police wrote, nothing had been taken at all.
One woman kept finding shoe prints in her yard, and the gate constantly left open. More disturbing, police wrote, she found drawings left on her bedroom window that appeared to have been written in “bodily fluids.”
There were several other prowling events, break-ins and burglaries in Cordova Meadows that winter. Several residents in the neighborhood received silent hang-up calls. One woman got such a call every night at 8 p.m. for a week straight — right up until the night of the murders of Brian and Katie Maggiore, and then never again.
Shortly after the murders, the Golden State Killer relocated to southern California, although it would be years before DNA evidence linked all the crimes.
Officially, the Golden State Killer is blamed for more than 50 rapes and 12 murders between 1976 and 1986.
But the affidavit hints at what has long been a theory among amateur investigators of his crimes — that he had a sort of warm-up act in 1974 and 1975, coinciding with DeAngelo’s first job as a police officer.
In less than two years, an astonishing number of 120 burglaries took place in the tiny town of Visalia, Calif. — about midway between the two hubs of the Golden State Killer’s later sprees, Sacramento and Los Angeles. Visalia was also a 10-minute drive from Exeter, where DeAngelo worked as a patrol officer.
The Visalia Ramsacker would typically break in when no one was home and take personal mementos, as would the Golden State Killer when the rape spree began two years later and hundreds of miles away.
But at least two incidents in Visalia turned violent.
In a paragraph that is almost entirely redacted, the affidavit mentions the shooting death of a college professor, Claude Snelling, who had confronted an intruder attempting to kidnap his daughter.
The affidavit also recounts the last night the burglar was seen in Visalia, at the end of 1975, and shortly before DeAngelo moved north to the Sacramento area.
A police officer caught the burglar peeping through a window that night, according to the police report, his ski mask lifted up over his face.
After a brief chase, he turned, removed his mask entirely, and begged the officer not to hurt him.
“The suspect’s voice [w]as juvenile and effeminate,” reads the report. But as he raised one hand over his head, he kept the other in his jacket pocket.
Then, even as he begged the officer for mercy, the man pulled a handgun from the pocket and fired.
The officer was saved only because the bullet struck his flashlight, “embedding in the battery.” As he fell backward, the prowler jumped a fence to escape.
“This pattern of explosive violence followed by escape when cornered would repeat itself in the series,” reads the affidavit — presumably referring to the many rapes and murders to come.
Avi Selk, The Washington Post, June 2, 2018