DOJ Announces Forensic Genealogy Guidelines at Palm Springs Conference

DOJ Announces Forensic Genealogy Guidelines at Palm Springs Conference

Daytona Everett

It’s the largest DNA forensic conference in the world and it’s in our own backyard. The International Symposium on Human Identification is a place where the most respected in the industry can talk about emerging technologies.

The biggest topic on the agenda this year is forensic genealogy. Forensic genealogy is law enforcement going after unsolved crimes by utilizing databases through genealogy sites like Ancestory.com.

“I employed this tool to solve the Golden State Killer Case,” Paul Holes, an esteemed investigator in California, said.

After a decades-long investigation, Holes finally put Joseph James Deangelo behind bars with the help of forensic genealogy.

The ISHI conference hosted a number of renowned investigators from around the world, including Holes. Tuesday morning, the Department of Justice released its newly-crafted guidelines for forensic genealogy.

“In an industry like forensic science, change has always been very slow and steady but the development and use of forensic genealogy has been rather fast and furious,” Ted Hunt, Senior Advisor to the Attorney General on Forensic Science, DOJ, said at the conference.

So fast, that policy never existed during the Golden State Killer investigation. Holes said the tool has always been controversial in the public’s eye.

“They have their privacy concerns,” Holes said. 

With the guidelines, Holes said the public can be confident with the integrity behind the use of their DNA in an investigation.

Full guidelines: https://www.justice.gov/olp/page/file/1204386/download

“Not only on what cases we can use this tool on but as we launch through the investigation, how we control accessing people’s DNA and what we’re going to be doing with those samples,” Holes said.

The ISHI conference will continue through Thursday with different talks on emerging technologies.