Use of DNA in serial killer probe sparks privacy concerns

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Privacy concerns are being raised over investigators’ use of a genealogical website to find the California man they say is a serial killer and rapist.

Joseph DeAngelo was arrested Tuesday after investigators say they matched crime-scene DNA using genetic material stored by a distant relative on a website.

Authorities say it’s an innovative technique that broke open the long-cold case of the Golden State Killer, who slew at least a dozen people and raped 50 women from 1976 to 1986.

But Steve Mercer of the Maryland public defender’s office says it pinpoints a problem: There aren’t strong privacy laws to keep police from trolling such databases.

Mercer says right now, people who submit DNA to be tested to find their ancestors can unwittingly become “genetic informants” on family members.