Readers React: Privacy, schmivacy. Police were right to use a commercial DNA database in the Golden State Killer case

Authorities gather outside the home of suspect Joseph James DeAngelo, Wednesday, April 25, 2018, in
Authorities gather outside the home of suspect Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. on April 25 in Citrus Heights, Calif.
(Rich Pedroncelli / AP)

To the editor: I’m disappointed that anyone would view the process used by police to arrest Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. in connection with the Golden State Killer rapes and homicides as an invasion of privacy. (“Police used consumer genealogical websites to identify Golden State Killer suspect,” April 26)

I was assaulted while jogging many years ago, and unfortunately the police did not collect my clothing. I know now that they suspected a man who would later kill a woman and be sentenced to death.

DNA is sometimes the only proof acceptable in a court of law when prosecuting sex crimes. Finally, someone figured out a way to possibly provide justice and answers to victims and their families through a DNA database willingly used by nearly 1 million people. This is a good thing. Laws and legal processes do not favor sexual assault victims. DNA profiling will help.

I have zero respect for anyone who is more concerned about protecting the rights of possible sexual psychopaths than doing the right thing for victims and bringing answers and a little peace to families.


Maureen Williams, Newman, Calif.


To the editor: This article implies that law enforcement’s use of publicly available genetic information to locate the alleged Golden State Killer raises ethical issues. How so is not explained.

A UC Berkeley law professor’s observation that law enforcement “probably looked at a lot of innocent people” before zeroing in on DeAngelo could describe thousands of police investigations, which inevitably consider innocent people while searching for their suspect.


The DNA information used by police is publicly available, and the providers of their genetic material are informed that the data can be used by others for various purposes.

Real ethical issues abound in our government — the Los Angeles Times reports on them every day. This instance is not one.

Robert Willett, Pasadena


To the editor: My mother was adopted in 1917. With only adoption records and conventional methods, we were unable to find her relatives.

Having undergone DNA testing and using, the site used by police investigating the Golden State Killer case, I now have my mother’s family tree back to France in 1290 and know of dozens of cousins. I have had the thrill of standing in a family home in Quebec City built in the 17th century.

I congratulate the authorities who used this platform to find a suspected killer. If a relative of mine were suspected of being a criminal, I would want him or her identified.

Pamela Taylor, Huntington Beach


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