Investigators hunting for the “Golden State Killer” turned to searching genetic websites in 2017 but misidentified an Oregon man as a potential suspect. Now, after using a similar technique, they are confident they’ve caught the serial rapist and killer who eluded capture for four decades, the Associated Press reports. In March 2017, an Oregon City police officer, at the request of investigators in California, convinced a judge to order a 73-year-old man in a nursing home to provide a DNA sample. Court documents said detectives used a genetic profile based off DNA from crime scenes linked to the serial killer and compared it to information on a free online genealogical site. Investigators cited a rare genetic marker that the Oregon man shared with the killer to get the judge to issue the order. The daughter of the Oregon City man, in poor health in a rehabilitation facility, said his family was not aware that authorities took a DNA sample from him until the FBI asked her later to help expand the family’s genetic tree in the search for suspects.
The woman, an amateur genealogist, cooperated, but investigators determined none of her relatives were viable suspects, she said. Ultimately investigators turned to a different genealogical site and arrested a man who they say was one of California’s most feared and elusive serial killers.On Friday, Joseph James DeAngelo appeared in court to face murder charges. Handcuffed to a wheelchair in orange jail scrubs, the 72-year-old looked dazed and spoke in a faint voice to acknowledge he was represented by a public defender. DeAngelo, a former police officer, has been charged with eight counts of murder, and additional charges are expected. Investigators arrested DeAngelo on Tuesday after matching crime-scene DNA with genetic material stored in an online database by a distant relative.