DNA Evidence Might End the 40-Year Mystery Behind The ‘Golden State Killer’ Case

Decades after a string of murders and sexual assaults in the 1970s and 80s left California residents in constant terror, a recent development in the search for the perpetrator – known colloquially as the Golden State Killer, thanks to the late Michelle McNamara’s crime novel I’ll be Gone in the Dark – has both true crime enthusiasts and law enforcement officials convinced  this is the end to a serial killer saga nearly 40 years in the making.

Sacramento authorities said the suspect, Joseph DeAngelo was found through DNA evidence recovered from a crime scene, which detectives used to trace back to the killer’s great-great-great-grandparents using the open-source genealogy website GEDmatch. From there, investigators mapped out the suspect’s family tree, which ultimately led them to DeAngelo, now an elderly retiree living in Citrus Heights, California.


While DNA evidence played a vital role in the capture of the Golden State Killer, this technology is fairly new. Homicide cases were once solved through circumstantial evidence and witness testimonies. See how early 20th-century forensic science failed one man in Executed in Error, now streaming until May 18.

Read more about the Golden State Killer case here:

As a young cop, Golden State Killer suspect was aloof, ambitious, ‘always serious’ (Los Angeles Times)

For victims of Golden State Killer, the horror never ended  (Los Angeles Times)

‘We found the needle in the haystack’: Golden State Killer suspect arrested after sudden DNA Match (The Washington Post)

To find alleged Golden State Killer, investigators first found his great-great-great-grandparents (The Washington Post)