The San Francisco Chronicle has reported the arrest of a suspected serial rapist whose trail had long gone cold—until investigators submitted DNA evidence to GEDmatch, a free genetic genealogy database also used to identify the alleged Golden State Killer earlier this year.
Roy Charles Waller, a 58-year old man and longtime University of California – Berkley employee, has been arrested for 12 counts of sexual assault attributed to the “NorCal Rapist.”
“The NorCal Rapist’s assaults began in 1991, when the attacker slipped through an unlocked door and raped a woman in her Rohnert Park townhome,” explains the article. “The man went on to attack a woman in Vallejo in 1992, and then another in Martinez on Halloween 1996….Later crimes were committed in Woodland and Davis in Yolo County, Chico in Butte County and in Sacramento, authorities said.” Robbery and theft were sometimes part of the crimes, which The Washington Post reported targeted Asian women.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, DNA evidence from each of these investigations tied the crimes together many years ago, but hadn’t revealed the perpetrator. Then recently, investigators uploaded the NorCal rapist’s DNA evidence to GEDmatch. Officials were able to “match the unidentified suspect’s DNA to a family member who had also uploaded his or her information.” It took only 10 days after the genetic identification was made for Waller to be arrested.
The use of genetic genealogy databases in criminal investigations has become much more popular in 2018 since the Golden State Killer broke. It also remains controversial both inside and outside of the genealogy community. In large part, this is because those who contributed DNA samples did so without consenting to have their samples used in this manner. GEDmatch has since amended its terms of service, which now clearly state that DNA evidence may be uploaded to the site by law enforcement officials, who may identify remains or perpetrators of homicide or sexual assault using family searching.
Curious about how you can use GEDmatch in your own DNA research? Blaine Bettinger, author of The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy, shares three ways to use GEDmatch in this free article.
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