The April 2018 arrest of Joseph DeAngelo, the Golden State Killer, is often considered the birth of forensic genetic genealogy (FGG). Since then, the method has taken off, with investigators in the U.S. and across the globe repeatedly turning to FGG for their coldest of cases.
The research-intensive method has been used to find the perpetrator in some of the most famous murder cases, as well as identify Does who have gone without their names for far too long—such as Joseph Augustus Zarelli, previously known as the Boy in the Box and America’s Unknown Child.
And while cases like Zarelli’s receive mass media attention, investigators are using FGG to solve rape and murders cases in small judications in the middle of the country, too. Exactly how many cases, you ask? According to Tracey Leigh Dowdeswell, 545 cases as of Dec. 31, 2022.
Dowdeswell, a professor of criminology and legal studies at Douglas College in Canada, is the first to put a number on cases solved using FGG. By doing so, she’s also the first to construct an adequate sample frame for further research into forensic genetic genealogy.