Golden State Killer/East Area Rapist probe wins international DNA investigation award

The Golden State Killer/East Area Rapist investigation has been selected as the top DNA case in the world, honoring Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert’s office and a number of local police agencies that helped lead to the arrest of suspect Joseph James DeAngelo.

The “DNA Hit of the Year” award, announced Tuesday in Kobe, Japan, selected the California case from among 70 cases submitted by 20 different nations.

The award is presented annually by Gordon Thomas Honeywell Governmental Affairs, which consults worldwide on DNA database policy.

“Using investigative genetic genealogy to identify those who are accused of horrific crimes has revolutionized law enforcement’s ability to solve violent crime,” Schubert said in a statement. “The arrest of the alleged Golden State Killer was an amazing moment for his victims as well as for the United States’ crime fighting history.

“This new law enforcement tool is bringing hope to victims and their families who have waited decades for justice.”

Schubert’s office led a decades-long search for a suspect in the case, which culminated with the April 2018 arrest of DeAngelo at his Citrus Heights home.

DeAngelo, a former police officer who had never before been a suspect in the case, was arrested after Schubert’s crime lab was able to use DNA from crime scenes to compare to DNA provided to a genealogical website.

Investigators found similarities in a sample from the site and built a family tree out from that individual until it led them to DeAngelo. Further DNA samples obtained from DeAngelo’s trash and truck handle led them to what they say is a match to the Golden State Killer/East Area Rapist crimes.

DeAngelo, 74, is currently being held in the Sacramento County Jail without bail facing 13 murder counts and 13 counts related to sexual assaults during the crime spree.

Sam Stanton has worked for The Bee since 1991 and has covered a variety of issues, including politics, criminal justice and breaking news.