'Golden State Killer' was first public arrest via genetic genealogy; here are 5 other cold cases solved using DNA testing
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against the suspected 'Golden State Killer' known as Joseph DeAngelo if he gets convicted of all the charges that were made against him, the prosecutors announced on Wednesday in a Sacramento court.
73-year-old DeAngelo has been accused of committing 13 murders along with rapes and burglaries in California between the 1970s and 80s. The former police officer had avoided and eluded law enforcement for decades before being arrested in Sacramento County in April last year. DeAngelo was the first ever public arrest to be made via genetic genealogy which is a new technique that takes DNA from an unknown killer left behind at crime and then identifies a suspect by tracing the suspect's family tree/family members who voluntarily give their DNA to public databases.
Here are five other cold cases which were solved using DNA testing:
5. The murder of Patricia Beard — solved in 2015
Patricia Beard was strangled in her apartment in 1981 in Denver and at the time was mentally disabled and had not been heard from by any of her family and friends. DNA evidence had been found in a post-mortem crime scene kit and entered into a database. It was only in 2015 that a match was found using DNA evidence and testing leading to the arrest of 53-year-old Pennsylvanian Hector Bencomo-Hinojos. Hinojos tried to deny the murder or ever knowing Beard but DNA evidence clearly linked him to the crime.
4. The murder of Lynn Seethaler and Janice Pietropola — solved in 2019
An 80-year-old man hailing from Queens was arrested in 2019 from a residence in St. Albans, Queens, after a warrant was issued from Virginia by the NYPD's Cold Case Apprehension Squad. Ernest Broadnax was charged with two counts of murder and one count of rape in the murders of 19-year-old Lynn Seethaler and Janice Pietropola which took place in 1973 in a motel in Virginia Beach.
3. The murder of Brynn Rainey and Carol Andersen — solved in 2019
Investigators from the El Dorado County in California identified the same man as the killer of two young women — one who was murdered in 1977 and the other who was murdered in 1979 through an emerging DNA technique which works on genealogy databases. The man who murdered both the young women was identified as Joseph Holt, a real estate worker who passed away in 2014. Investigators were of the opinion that both murders were crimes of opportunity.
2. The murder of Sophie Sergie — solved in 2019
Sophie Sergie was a student at the University of Alaska and was murdered in 1993 with her case becoming one of Alaska's most notorious cold cases. Authorities were able to use DNA genealogical mapping in order to find the killer and found a match to a nurse in Auburn, Maine, 44-year-old Steven Downs. At the time of the murder, while investigators searched the area, they came across Downs and his roommate Nicholas Dazer who also worked as a security guard on the campus. Both denied having any knowledge of the murder.
1. The murder of Jody Loomis — solved in 2019
All thanks to the same DNA technology that helped catch the Golden State Killer suspect, authorities in Washington state were able to arrest a 77-year-old man who was involved in the murder of 20-year-old Jody Loomis in 1972. Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary shared, "After more than 46 years of searching for her killer, we finally have some answers for Jody's family. Thanks to the relentless persistence of our cold case team and new DNA technology, we are one step closer to justice for Jody."