The Los Angeles Police Department’s hunt for a serial killer who has stalked women for more than two decades was dealt a setback yesterday when a controversial search of DNA databases for the killer’s family members came up empty, reports the Los Angeles Times. Pioneered in Britain, familial DNA searches are largely uncharted territory in the United States. The attempt to identify one of the serial killer’s relatives was the first major use of California’s familial searching policy, the most far-reaching in the nation.
State Attorney General Jerry Brown overcame serious constitutional and privacy concerns raised by advisors and cleared the way for the search. Officials painstakingly created a list of possible relatives from the state database of felons’ DNA profiles. They then eliminated potential matches through further genetic testing and by reviewing public records to determine ages, addresses and names of family members. In the end, there were no matches. The case has stymied the department for years. A task force is now left to continue with efforts to revive leads from old cases, search for missed clues and hope someone with knowledge of the killer comes forward. The serial killer has claimed 10 known victims, striking most recently last year. Except for one man, he has targeted young, black women, many of them prostitutes.