Police have identified thousands of suspects by testing DNA profiles in blood, sweat, semen, or skin tissue at crime scenes, and comparing them to the profiles of known offenders in government databases. Now, reports USA Today, advances in DNA testing allow investigators to learn more about suspects whose profiles are not in the databases. Tests that can identify a suspect’s ancestry are being used not to identify the suspect by name, but to give police an idea of what he or she looks like.
In a Kansas City case, ancestry testing “allowed us to prioritize our tips, to give special attention to tips about mixed-race children, for instance,” said a detective. “It was invaluable.” In 2003, police in Louisiana used ancestry testing to help find the suspect in seven rape/murders. Since then, police in Missouri, Virginia, Colorado, California and the United Kingdom also have used such tests to develop leads in more than 80 other homicide, rape and missing-persons cases. Defense lawyers fear that ancestry testing could lead to genetic racial profiling, or promote the idea that certain races are more inclined than others to commit crimes.