FSU professor discusses ethics behind using genealogy kits to solve crimes

Akilah Davis Image
Saturday, August 25, 2018

FAYETTEVILLE, NC (WTVD) -- A process that helped California authorities catch the accused Golden State Killer also helped Fayetteville police solve one of the city's most notorious crimes.

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This week, the man suspected of being the "Ramsey Street Rapist" was arrested after police used DNA collected through genealogy websites.

The ethics behind this new method of solving crimes is up for discussion.

"One would argue that the ends justify the means. Another would argue that the ends don't justify the means," said FSU Criminal Justice professor Dr. Michael John DeValve. "What if Parabon decides to share their information with insurance companies or other folks that might have collateral consequences that are really problematic?"

According to Dr. DeValve, by signing up for DNA and genealogy kits, people agree to reveal the identity of their family members, too. Fayetteville police used this tool to track down the suspected "Ramsey Street Rapist."

"Clearing cold cases crimes like this can be healing for victims in really important ways," said DeValve. "What's going to happen is we're going to discover limitations, unfortunately, in time as we make mistakes."