Virginia Hughes reports that a small cottage industry is growing to help law enforcement solve cold cases. The techniques involve DNA and using genetic markers to build multigenerational family trees — like the techniques that helped law enforcement finally catch the Golden State Killer. Hughes reports:
Mr. McCord and his team are among a growing number of investigators that have joined the scientific vanguard to revive cold cases. Hundreds of cases, of both victims and perpetrators, have likely been solved. Some have involved extracting DNA from decades-old bones, hair or minute traces of skin cells. Others have benefited from the most comprehensive and expensive type of DNA testing, known as whole-genome sequencing.
Critics worry that the widening use of this investigational method could lead to what is essentially a national DNA database for law enforcement, giving police access to highly personal information from a wide swath of the public without their explicit consent. The only significant limit is the cost — typically several thousand dollars per case — and that is dropping rapidly, as demand surges.
Read more on The New York Times.