Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Yellow Light to DNA Familial Searches

by arg

A serial killer nicknamed the "Grim Sleeper" was caught after a familial DNA search was completed, but now there is controversy about whether this type of search should be done because it could raise privacy and civil liberty issues if it is not properly controlled.

In the case of the serial killer nicknamed the “Grim Sleeper,” DNA samples he left at several crime scenes were a close partial match to Christopher Franklin, who was in a California prison on a weapons conviction. Investigators could tell that the killer had to be a close relative of Mr. Franklin and narrowed it down to his father, Lonnie Franklin Jr., after they found the father’s DNA in saliva on a discarded slice of pizza. Lonnie Franklin Jr. was charged with 10 counts of murder.


Anonymous said...

I can understand the civil privacy issues this may bring. However, in the case of violent offenders, I think the benefits of getting a dangerous predator off the street outweigh the privacy issues. I mean dont police already have the ability to track cellphone usage, locations and call history? This could also bring questions of privacy issues. The problem I may see arising is when the DNA is a familial match but the police cannot figure out who the family member is. For example, what if a person was adopted and they did not know the identity of their birth parent. How would the case of the serial killer from the passage above have been solved then? Would the investigators have found a way to unseal birth records? Does the person have a right to know that you have used their DNA to locate a familial match? I mean if the case goes to trial, the records are potentially public then correct. GRJ

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