Roy Charles Waller, right, has not yet entered a plea. He became a suspect in 10 rapes after investigators located a close relative in the GEDmatch database. CreditRenee C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee, via Associated Press

By Heather Murphy
Oct. 15, 2018

LAKE WORTH, FLA. — On Halloween night in 1996, a man in a skeleton mask knocked on the door of a house in Martinez, Calif., handcuffed the woman who greeted him and raped her. Two weeks later, he called the dental office where she worked. Investigators tried to track him down through phone records but got nowhere. They obtained traces of his semen, but there was no match for his DNA in any criminal database.

Last month — two decades after the crime — the Sacramento district attorney’s office tried something new to finally crack the case of this serial rapist, who had attacked at least 10 women in their homes. Investigators converted the assailant’s DNA to the kind of profile that family history websites such as 23andMe are built on, and uploaded it to GEDmatch.com, a free site open to all and beloved by genealogical researchers seeking to find biological relatives or to construct elaborate family trees.

Within five minutes of reviewing the results, the investigators had located a close relative among the million or so profiles in the database. Within two hours, they had a suspect, who was soon arrested: Roy Charles Waller, a safety specialist at the University of California, Berkeley.

The arrest marked the 15th time that GEDmatch had provided essential clues leading to a suspect in a murder or sexual assault case, starting with the arrest in April of Joseph James DeAngelo, a former police officer, for the rapes and murders committed across California in the 1970s and 1980s by the notorious Golden State Killer. READ FULL STORY HERE

My section:

one woman’s request to make sure that her profile would be easy for criminal investigators to find. She suspected that her father, who had been in and out of mental institutions after killing her grandfather, had taken other lives.

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