A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post on how the Queens DA had sent a request to the New York State Commissioner of Criminal Justice Services asking for permission to use familial searching of DNA to help solve the murder of Karina Vetrano, a thirty-year-old jogger who was brutally raped and murdered while out for a run on Howard Beach. Basically, what happened here is the police have DNA from the crime scene, but it doesn’t match anyone in the CODIS database. They wanted the state of New York to allow them to search for familial hits in the system to try to track down their killer. For example, maybe someone related to the killer has been arrested of a felony and if they could find a familial hit, it could lead them to their killer. I’ve been keeping tabs on this case, as while I agree that allowing law enforcement to use familial DNA searches could help solve a lot of crimes that have gone unsolved for years, I also worry it is a slippery slope when it comes to an individual’s right to privacy. Click here to read the full blog post!
Should familial DNA searching be legal in all 50 states?
You know the drill: a murder is committed and investigators gather evidence from the crime scene–fingerprints, strands of hair, and, if they’re lucky, DNA. Once a DNA profile is obtained, police enter it into the national CODIS database, searching for a match. CODIS stands for Combined DNA Index System, a program supported and run by the FBI. One part of CODIS is the NDIS, or the National DNA Index System, which contains DNA profiles contributed by the federal, state, and local law enforcement. Whenever law enforcement enters a new DNA profile into CODIS, it is in hopes that the computer program will return a match. Sometimes that match comes in the form of another crime scene that has been entered into the system that maybe police did not think were linked. Sometimes that match comes in the form of a direct hit on an individual whose DNA has already been submitted into the system after a prior conviction. Sometimes there is no match at all and the case turns cold. In the rarest of occasions, however, there is another kind of hit–a familial match.
Click here to read the full blog post!