My latest for Real Clear Life, about unsolved murders that might be ripe for the same kind of investigation that nabbed the alleged Golden State Killer, Joseph James DeAngelo. There is some understandable controversy about using public genealogy sites to find matches to an unknown suspect’s DNA, yet it’s hard to resist the idea that this is a new route to solving previously unsolvable cases. I include the Zodiac Killer as well as JonBenet Ramsey.
A release distributed by ZodiacKiller.com Wednesday night revealed the inevitable: Investigators in northern California are on the road to seeking a familial DNA match to the mysterious serial killer. The release stated that even after “50 years, the Vallejo (Calif.) Police Dept. is still actively pursuing the Zodiac killer, including through all available forensic resources. DNA testing is underway and the results should be available in June 2018.”
With up-to-date DNA testing, investigators hope they can “glean a full genetic profile of the Zodiac that can be used in an Ancestry-type database.” This is inevitable because it’s exactly how investigators nailed the alleged Golden State Killer (GSK), Joseph James DeAngelo. He was arrested on April 24th, after he was fingered through extensive research into related DNA.
Evidence from the Zodiac undergoing new tests includes the envelopes he used to send his codes to San Francisco media as well as the stamps on those envelopes. As the Zodiac Killer site’s release states, “they were originally tested about 10 years ago and approx. 25% of each stamp and a small portion of the adhesive area of each envelope were used for testing.”
Those tests yielded only marginally useful genetic material. It was compared to the DNA of Arthur Leigh Allen—the most famous Zodiac suspect—and didn’t match.
The ZodiacKiller.com release noted that there is a wealth of evidence police will be able to test “with the new equipment, which can apparently separate DNA from the old glue found on stamps and envelopes, and thus yield better results.”
GSK was arrested the same week Oklahoma police arrested a suspect in the mysterious 1999 disappearance of Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman. The day police took Joseph James DeAngelo into custody I joked that it’d be great if the universe pulled a hat trick and revealed the Zodiac’s real identity.
It didn’t happen, but who knows, we may be on our way.