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filmfann's avatar

What is your take on using genealogical dna tests to solve cold case files?

Asked by filmfann (48020points) July 20th, 2018

I have had my DNA tested to help trace my family tree.
My brother has refused to participate, claiming that the government would create a database to solve cold cases, which looks exactly like what has happened.
News reports now say law enforcement agencies are using cold case DNA evidence to narrow suspects.
(Genealogy websites such as and 23andMe had millions more profiles, but unlike them, GEDmatch had no policy against searches by law enforcement.)

How do you feel about the government utilizing DNA databases to solve cold cases?
Would you still use this kind of test for family tree research?
Does the importance of solving cold cases outweigh the implied privacy agreement?

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14 Answers

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think it’s fine. If you haven’t done anything wrong, there is nothing to worry about.

gondwanalon's avatar

It’s OK with me that government law inforcement has my DNA in their data base. More power to them in solving cold cases. I don’t remember doing a criminal act but if I did then I need to atone for my sin(s). HA!

My two older Sisters refuse to have they’re DNA tested. They are afraid of some unknown and diabolical use of their DNA. They are also afraid of the truth that they are part South American Indian. According to “HomeDNA”, I’m 10% Native American.

chyna's avatar

If that helps to solve a cold case murder, I’m all for it. Especially for those family’s missing a loved one and has no idea where they are. Hopefully it will catch a killer and he/she will tell where the body is.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I second @chyna. Whatever they need from me to help, they can have it.

I took a DNA thing. I’m, like, 150% WHITE. That is all. Just white. Sooo boring.

elbanditoroso's avatar

You have to separate the question.

1) How do I feel about the police using other peoples’ DNA to solve cold cases?

Why not? The data is out there and if it solves a crime, I have no issue with it. It’s a little (lot) spooky), but in the end data is data and that’s OK.

2) Do I want to have my own DNA tested and on record?

Absolutely not. It creeps me out.

kritiper's avatar

It’s about time!

zenvelo's avatar

I am okay with it as long as people actively consented prior to submission of their DNA.

People have submitted without any idea their DNA would be used by the police. That is wrong, police already have too much information on everyone.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@Dutchess_III wrote: I think it’s fine. If you haven’t done anything wrong, there is nothing to worry about.

How naive.

What you wrote may be true today. But – Suppose we get an autocratic ruler who decides that an Internal Security department should have the authority to track down people with <population trait 1> or <population trait 2> and kill them because they are not racially pure or maybe because they have a possibility of getting some illness that would pollute the race?

(do you read history books? It has happened before)

Having your DNA on file makes it easier for the government (and don’t kids yourself – 23andME would bow to government authority if they had to) to track you and your family and your distant kin down.

Saying “I have nothing to hide” is like putting your head in the sand.

zenvelo's avatar

And to emphasize @elbanditoroso‘s point, your DNA may convict your unborn grandchild or great grandchild.

The recently arrested Golden State Killer (not yet convicted) was found based on a relative’s DNA in a database.

chyna's avatar

^Which was a good thing in the Golden State Killer’s case.
If someone’s unborn grandchild turns out to be a killer, they need to be caught.

kritiper's avatar

No one should assume the worst will always happen.
But I realize that that is always the case, out of court. People are always guilty until proven innocent! How I wish people’s attitudes would change! Thank heavens our court system doesn’t work that way!!
It’s only illegal if you get caught, too!

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Sounds good for murder cases. It gets hazy when used for minor crimes. Imagine for instance that video evidence is used for jaywalking or protesting. Might be bad, everyone breaks the law in every day in some small way. Do you know that in the USA it is against the law to use a fake name, or pseudonym, in a social network? We would mostly be breaking the law in Fluther. I’m not sure about the law. I will ask in Meta. Edit: it seems it only applies to Facebook accounts.

snowberry's avatar

It’s a bad plan. This is from the police side. The False Promise of DNA Testing

Edited:Here’s the deal from the private DNA side. There’s a lot of room for error in taking samples in the first place. Then if they use those samples as part of the conviction process, that’s a huge problem.

rojo's avatar

I kinda feels like the beginnings of the pre-crime unit.

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