A Florida detective investigating a serial rapist will have access to the DNA profiles of nearly one million people after a judge recently approved a warrant to search the full database of the same site used to catch the Golden State Killer, reports say.
Detective Michael Fields with the Orlando Police Department was working to solve the case of a serial rapist believed to have assaulted a number of women decades ago when his investigation came to a sudden stop after the commercial DNA site GEDmatch made a policy change in May that significantly restricted police access, according to The New York Times.
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Fields had previously had success using the site — in 2018, he was able to successfully identify the suspect wanted in the 2001 murder of a 25-year-old woman, the Times reported.
But GEDmatch, one of the smaller websites that logs the genetic information of participating users, changed its policy in the face of major backlash by privacy groups after the arrest of James DeAngelo, 72, the suspect in the notorious Golden State Killer case, who was tracked down using DNA matches to his third cousin’s DNA profile from the website.
Fields filed for a warrant in the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida just two months later to regain access to the data. After the warrant was approved, GEDmatch complied within 24 hours, according to the report.
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He has reportedly gotten new leads in the case but has not made any arrests.
The arrest of the Golden State Killer using DNA profiles and genetic genealogy has led to the technique being used in dozens of cold case murders and rapes across the country that were previously unsolved by traditional investigative techniques.
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The two largest DNA sites, Ancestry.com and 23andMe, have committed to keeping user information private but many experts say the latest development in Florida could open a door to courts overruling company policy.
Fox News’ Rob Gearty contributed to this report.