You’ve no doubt seen it in the headlines recently, the way in which DNA evidence led to the apprehension of the “Golden State Killer.” There was some brouhaha over the way they caught the guy, a 72-year-old former cop named Joseph James DeAngelo, with some complaining about the way the authorities got hold of the suspect’s DNA; evidence recovered from one of the crime scenes back in the day was matched to a relative of DeAngelo’s on the open-source genealogy website GEDmatch. This sparked concerns over the privacy of a person’s DNA if they choose to use one of those websites. I honestly can’t think of any reason off the top of my head why I would care that my DNA profile might conceivably be a matter of public record, since I’m not a serial killer, but that’s not what has me most interested in this case.
The crimes of the Golden State Killer ceased in 1986. Why? Generally speaking, there are only two reasons why a serial killer ever stops killing: either he gets caught (possibly going to prison for some different crime) or he dies. Such a person doesn’t just stop. Yet it appears that is the case with DeAngelo. It goes against almost everything I’ve read concerning serial killers, everything I’ve studied. Why did he stop in 1986? Thus far there have been no answers.