Got Axelrod? Call Our Experienced Myrtle Beach Criminal and Personal Injury attorneys.


At Axelrod & Associates, we face adversity daily when fighting for our clients. We want to assure our clients that during this time of adversity throughout our country, we will continue to fight for our clients and provide quality legal representation that defines Axelrod & Associates, P.A.

Please view our COVID-19 statement to learn more about the steps we are taking to continue to provide legal representation for our clients while putting health and safety first.

Got Axelrod?

Police are Using Private DNA Databases to Identify Suspects Now?

It might seem ungrateful to question the methods police use when they catch a suspected serial killer and rapist. The Golden State Killer terrorized entire communities for decades, and now, police say, they've got him. He won't be hurting anyone else.

So, it doesn't matter how they got him, right?

Actually, it matters a lot.

Police in California used a private DNA database to identify and arrest Joseph DeAngelo, who they say committed at least 12 murders and as many as 100 rapes between 1974 and 1986.

Their use of a genealogy website to find the suspect will probably be repeated by law enforcement around the country and in South Carolina, and it raises ethical and privacy questions that courts may be dealing with for years.

How Did They Identify the Golden State Killer Suspect?

Police took DNA that had been found at the scene of multiple homicides believed to have been committed by the Golden State Killer and uploaded it to the genealogy website GEDmatch. By finding matches with the DNA of people who have uploaded their own DNA, they were able to create a family tree and eventually narrow the search using age and location.

When their research pointed to DeAngelo, a former police officer, law enforcement officials put him under surveillance and collected his "abandoned" DNA, which was a match to the DNA found at the crime scenes.

So, What's the Problem?

People submit their DNA to these websites to learn about their family history - not to participate in criminal investigations against their own family members. In this case, they had no idea their DNA would be used by law enforcement agents in a criminal investigation. And, if they didn't know, they couldn't have given their consent.

Does this matter? Does it present an ethical problem? I think so, but in the end, the courts will have to decide these kinds of issues. As DNA technology continues to expand, there will be even more difficult questions for courts to wrestle with.

What about the suspect's rights? Uploading his DNA makes it public - and remember, he is still just a suspect, innocent until proven guilty. Police already do this with fingerprints, and the courts have never complained. But, fingerprints don't tell you much about a person, while DNA contains a lot of very private information.

And what about the family members whose DNA samples were used, without consent, to identify the suspect? Should police be able to use your DNA to put your mother or your brother in jail without even consulting you?

Do All DNA Sites Share Information with Law Enforcement?

No ... at least not yet.

GEDmatch is different than most DNA-genealogy companies. Sites like 23AndMe and AncestryDNA do not allow users to upload their DNA to their site, and they do not share information with law enforcement or any other third parties.

If you value privacy, that's a good thing, because the two top DNA websites alone say they have tested 10 million people. That is a whole lot of potential "evidence."

Got Axelrod?

The Myrtle Beach criminal defense lawyers at Axelrod and Associates will investigate your charges, get the evidence that the government plans to use against you, and challenge their evidence and methodology at every stage of your case.

If you have been charged with a crime in the Myrtle Beach or Rock Hill areas of South Carolina, call us now at (843) 916-9300 or fill out our contact form to set up a free initial consultation about your case.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Got Axelrod? Call 843.353.3449
Email Us For A Response

Get A Free Consultation

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form. Consultations will be evaluated on a case by case basis. Please note that some consultations may require a consultation fee. Please contact our office for further information.


Privacy Policy

Axelrod & Associates, P.A.
4701 Oleander Drive, Suite A
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577

Phone: 843-353-3449
Fax: 843.916.9311
Myrtle Beach Law Office Map

Axelrod & Associates, P.A.
331 E. Main Street, Suite 200
Rock Hill, SC 29730

Phone: 843-353-3449
Rock Hill Law Office Map

Axelrod & Associates, P.A.
3700 Golf Colony Ln
Little River, SC 29566

Phone: 843-353-3449
Little River Law Office Map

Myrtle Beach Office
1550 N. Oak St.
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577

Map & Directions