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Decades long manhunt ends for Golden State Killer thanks to DNA testing

Joseph+James+DeAngelo%2C+the+suspected+%E2%80%98Golden+State+Killer%2C%E2%80%99+is+believed+to+be+the+East+Area+Rapist+who+killed+at+least+12+people+and+raped+at+least+50+women+in+the+1970s+and+1980s.+The+FBI+uploaded+a+DNA+sample+from+the+scene+of+one+of+his+alleged+crimes+to+GEDMatch+genealogy+site+to+track+him+down.
Joseph James DeAngelo, the suspected ‘Golden State Killer,’ is believed to be the East Area Rapist who killed at least 12 people and raped at least 50 women in the 1970s and 1980s. The FBI uploaded a DNA sample from the scene of one of his alleged crimes to GEDMatch genealogy site to track him down.

Joseph James DeAngelo, the suspected ‘Golden State Killer,’ is believed to be the East Area Rapist who killed at least 12 people and raped at least 50 women in the 1970s and 1980s. The FBI uploaded a DNA sample from the scene of one of his alleged crimes to GEDMatch genealogy site to track him down.

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/genealogy-site-traps-alleged-serial-killer-how-your-dna-could-be-used-against-you-2018-04-28

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/genealogy-site-traps-alleged-serial-killer-how-your-dna-could-be-used-against-you-2018-04-28

Joseph James DeAngelo, the suspected ‘Golden State Killer,’ is believed to be the East Area Rapist who killed at least 12 people and raped at least 50 women in the 1970s and 1980s. The FBI uploaded a DNA sample from the scene of one of his alleged crimes to GEDMatch genealogy site to track him down.

Maggie Hendrix, Reporter

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On April 25 in Citrus Heights, California, police arrested Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. for more than a dozen murders and at least 51 rapes in California from 1974 through 1986.  DeAngelo, a former police officer, never left fingerprints at the scene of his crimes but did leave behind DNA evidence.  Though DNA testing did not exist at the time, police retained evidence containing DNA samples and claim they have been able to get a full DNA profile match from samples DeAngelo “abandoned” in public.

While this is a great victory for the victims and families of the Golden State Killer, many other victims are still waiting for their rape kits to be tested by authorities.  According to End the Backlog, more than 225,000 untested rape kits sit in police and crime lab storage facilities across the United States.  End the Backlog is a part of the Joyful Heart Foundation, a non-profit organization attempting to “transform society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, support survivors’ healing, and end this violence forever.”

According to the End the Backlog website, Arkansas had more than 2,000 untested rape kits as of 2016 and has not made a formal commitment or mandated testing of the stored kits. Arkansas also does not mandate that law enforcement agencies test or track rape kits.

Kentucky, however, recently put in place significant legislation to reduce the backlog of rape kits. In 2016, the state mandated that law enforcement agencies collect rape kits within five days and submit them for testing within 30 days. It also requires that kits be processed faster and that all law enforcement facilities have staff members trained to respond to sexual assault cases. Victims are also updated on the progress of the kit, informed of matches with DNA evidence, and notified in advance if a kit will be destroyed, unlike in many states. Kentucky also appropriated 4.5 million dollars to investigate the cases.

According to a 2017 report by WLKY, the more than 3000 untested rape kits in the state in 2015 spurred legislative action, and, remarkably, the state now has no untested kits.

Rape kits are used in cases of stranger rape (in which the attacker is unknown by the victim), acquaintance rape (when the victim knows or has a relationship with the attacker), and serial rape (when an attacker has committed multiple rapes). They can be used to identify an unknown assailant, to prove that sexual violence took place, or, as in the case of the Golden State Killer, to link an assailant to multiple cases using DNA evidence.

Procedures for collecting evidence are very invasive and can take up to five hours to complete. Despite the inconvenience and discomfort of collecting evidence, however, kits are often discarded after a period of time in storage, even if they could still be used in prosecution.

Throughout the country, untested rape kits can be legally destroyed by law enforcement well within the statute of limitations. This means that the DNA evidence that could be used to support the prosecution of rape cases is often disposed of before ever being examined, and in many states, including Arkansas, victims do not receive notice or are not informed that kits will be destroyed.

Additionally, Arkansas has not committed to testing backlogged or new kits, and it has no tracking system for rape kits. The stated has not appropriated funding for rape kit reform, so the number of untested kits will likely continue to grow in coming years without significant legislative actions such as those taken in Kentucky.

The case of the Golden State Killer has shed new light on the use of rape kits to resolve cases and bring justice for victims, but the current state of the rape kit backlog in the country and in Arkansas warrants skepticism as to the future of such cases.

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About the Writer
Maggie Hendrix, Reporter
I am a sophomore and a first year reporter. I enjoy reading, baking, and spending time with friends.
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Decades long manhunt ends for Golden State Killer thanks to DNA testing