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Online DNA profile leads to suspect in 1997 New Mexico rape

December 22, 2021 GMT

Prosecutors in Albuquerque say they tracked down a suspect in a decades-old rape case by using open-source genealogy data.

Second Judicial District Attorney Raúl Torrez announced an arrest Tuesday in the case from 1997 in which a man is suspected of forcing his way into a woman’s home, holding her at knifepoint and sexually assaulting her.

It’s the second time the office has filed charges using forensic genealogy, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

In the first case, a man pleaded guilty in 2020 to raping a woman who had been running along the Rio Grande on Christmas Eve five years earlier. Authorities connected him through a second cousin, twice removed, who uploaded his DNA to an online site, the Journal reported.

In the latest case, a contractor working for Torrez’s office matched DNA, collected from a fork that the suspect discarded, to open-source genealogy data. Torrez said the suspect’s DNA has been linked to several other rapes.

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One of the most notable uses of online genetic profiles was in Northern California, when authorities connected a former police officer to one of the state’s most prolific serial killers and rapists.

Joseph James DeAngelo pleaded guilty to 13 counts of murder and dozens of rapes that were too old to prosecute. He is serving life in prison.