Northern California authorities said Wednesday that they have cracked a 45-year-old murder case using the same publicly available DNA database that led to the arrest of alleged Golden State Killer Joseph DeAngelo.
Officers arrested John Arthur Getreu, 74, on suspicion of killing a 21-year-old Palo Alto woman in 1973, said Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office spokesman Richard Glennon.
Investigators were led to Getreu after recently submitting DNA evidence to the Virginia-based DNA technology company Parabon NanoLab, which uses the public genealogical database GEDmatch to generate a number of family trees connected to the sample.
Two scientists launched the database in 2010 to help amateur and professional genealogical researchers. The database doesn't collect DNA samples directly; instead it aggregates results from commercial sites like 23andMe submitted by users. Researchers upload their DNA samples to GEDmatch in search of matches, which usually come in the form of several family trees rather than one individual.
A growing number of investigators across the country are turning to the GED database for help after the FBI's national DNA database fails to find a match. DeAngelo was the first suspect arrested using the company's database in September. DeAngelo has been charged with raping and killing 13 women decades ago.