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Just Science: DNA: Just the Golden State Killer

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2019
1 page

In this episode five of the DNA season of the Just Science podcast series sponsored by the National Institute of Justice, Dr. Barbara Rae-Venter continues her interview from a previous episode of Just Science in which she described her techniques for creating family DNA trees and the resolution of her first cold case; she continues the interview with a discussion of building a DNA profile and explaining how she used investigative genetic genealogy to identify the Golden State Killer.


The interview begins with a discussion of the DNA-related investigative technique used to identify the Golden State Killer. Although there was an untested DNA sample from one of his crime scenes, there was no match of the killer's DNA with any DNA from a known criminal in any of the criminal justice DNA databases. The interview focuses on how Dr. Rae-Venter worked with other DNA databases unrelated to criminal events, such as available ancestral trees. She succeeded in narrowing the killer's DNA to a family group with six men who lived in California, with only one of those men having the eye color identified as being the killer's. The interview also focuses on another case in North Carolina in which Dr. Rae-Venter was asked to investigate. It involved a discovered skeletonized body, which she was able to identify. This then led to the determination of a double murder and the identification of the perpetrator. The interview concludes with a discussion of the implications for criminal investigations of how DNA data from other than criminal justice DNA databases can be used in criminal investigations.

Date Published: October 1, 2019