AMU AMU Disaster Crew Homeland Security Podcast

Podcast: Using Genetic Genealogy DNA Databases to Solve Cold Cases

Podcast featuring Glynn Cosker, Managing Editor, Edge and
Jennifer Bucholtz, Faculty Member, Criminal Justice

Genetic genealogy databases have aided law enforcement in successfully solving some of the most notorious unsolved criminal cases like the Golden State Killer. In this podcast episode, AMU criminal justice professor Jennifer Bucholtz talks to IHS Managing Editor Glynn Cosker about how this advanced technology works and how genetic genealogy databases may help identify unknown DNA samples of both criminals and victims. Learn more about police procedure, privacy concerns related to DNA databases and how this technology could help solve thousands of cold cases around the country.

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Glynn Cosker: Hello and welcome to AMU Disaster Crew’s latest podcast. I’m Glynn Cosker, your host and managing editor of EDM Digest and In Homeland Security, two of AMU’s news sites. Our popular Twitter feed is @AMUdisastercrew, and this podcast features regular guests with expertise in various fields, including national security, emergency and disaster management, counter-terrorism, intelligence, public safety, and a whole lot more.

And joining me today is a person who has practically done all of that. And that is AMU faculty member Jen Bucholtz, who is an expert in various aspects of forensic science and death investigation. And during her career, Jen has worked for the office of the Chief Medical Examiner in New York City, with the U.S. Army as a counterintelligence agent and for the Department of Defense as a team leader for numerous counter-terrorism efforts. Throughout her career, she has gained firsthand experience in death and homicide investigations, the processing of crime scenes, and various aspects of force protection and counter-terrorism. Jen, did I miss anything?

Jen Bucholtz: You did not, Glynn. Thank you for having me on today. It’s my pleasure to be here, and I’m pretty excited about our conversation that we’re going to have.

Glynn Cosker: Me too. And thank you for being here. And the conversation that we are going to have is going to be all about a major tool that has made headlines recently in solving numerous cold cases. In fact, dozens of cold cases. And it’s a scientific industry that has grown exponentially of late, and that of course is forensic genetic genealogy.

So Jen, why don’t you tell our audience a little bit about forensic genetic genealogy. It’s led to the discovery of dozens of suspects over the years. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about it and how you got involved with it?

Jen Bucholtz: Sure. I’d love to. Forensic genetic genealogy actually came about in 2018. So it’s a fairly new technique that law enforcement has been using. But like you said, it’s already led to the identification of over 50 perpetrators of violent crimes, primarily rapes and murders that have gone unsolved for many years. And so the idea formed as an effort originally to identify the owner of unknown DNA that had been left at crime scenes.

And as we’ll talk about later, the first perpetrator that was identified using this technique was the Golden State Killer. The technique itself does not actually identify someone’s DNA code, but how it works is they will take an unknown DNA sample and upload it to open-source genetic databases like, 23andMe, or the most popular one for law enforcement is one called GEDmatch. And that’s the one that was used in the Golden State Killer case.

Glynn Cosker: Right. And GEDmatch is G-E-D match, right?

Jen Bucholtz: Correct. Yes. And so they upload this unknown DNA and sometimes the GEDmatch database will return a couple of matches, meaning relatives or people who are related to that unknown DNA source. And by knowing who those couple of relatives are, a genetic genealogist can use open-source information to build a family tree and identify the most likely suspect behind that unknown DNA.

And these genealogists, they use open-source resources. They’re not in private law enforcement databases. So they’ll use marriage and divorce records, census records, newspaper archives, immigration records, social media, and so on. All types of open-source information to build that family tree.

Glynn Cosker: So let’s talk about this in layman’s terms then, Jen. So obviously there might be a cold case that dates back to the ’70s before DNA was used in criminal justice and crime-solving. So if I’m a police officer or law enforcement officer today, and I’ve got this cold case 40 years ago, explain to me how the process works.

You mentioned that they build out a family tree, and I believe in a lot of the cases, they have to go back generations and then meticulously go down each of the family trees that they create in order to narrow down a suspect that they might have been looking at back when the crime was first committed. Is that about right or could you extrapolate on that?

Jen Bucholtz: Basically, you have the process correct, and I can provide you some more detail on how it works. So say we have a cold case, a homicide from 1970, and there was a DNA sample that was preserved properly and can still be analyzed to this day.

The law enforcement can upload that DNA sample to the GEDmatch database, for example, just as you would as a citizen who wants to find relatives in your family that you might not know about. GEDmatch originally started as a family tree building ancestry research database.

And so law enforcement will upload that unknown DNA sample. And you’re correct, sometimes the matches that come back are from… They can just tell that it’s from the 1700s, and they can tell that based on what’s called the number of centimorgans that come back.

And so the higher the number of centimorgans, the closer the two DNA profiles are related to each other. The lower that number is, the farther apart that they are. So you might get a low centimorgan match that indicates this was like a great-great-great-grandmother or a third or fourth cousin.

And so you can imagine the magnitude of a family tree that you might need to build in order to figure out how those two distant relatives relate to this unknown DNA sample. And it can be a very time-consuming task and tedious to put that family tree together but there’s been a lot of success stories in doing that.

Glynn Cosker: It is a fascinating science. And like you said, the amount of combinations of people that could be generated or different types of family trees that could come from my great-great-great-great-grandfather, for instance, it’s mind-boggling. Obviously your parents, there are two of those and then you’ve got four grandparents and then getting up there into the great-great-great-greats. But it has been successfully used, like you said, to solve these crimes.

Now, do you think that this type of thing is just going to keep growing over the next decade or two and become… Right now, it’s not the number one go-to thing that law enforcement can do, is it?

Jen Bucholtz: Correct.

Glynn Cosker: There are some established guidelines and restrictions for utilizing the public’s DNA. So right now, law enforcement cannot turn to it as their first choice of solving a crime. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about those guidelines and what the Department of Justice had to say about it.

Jen Bucholtz: Yeah, that’s correct. So they have to pretty much exhaust all other resources before they can turn to the GEDmatch database to try to find the owner of an unknown DNA sample. And so exhausting other resources is pretty much exhausting every other investigative technique that they can come up with, but there are some that must be exhausted, which are in writing.

And one of those is that they have to have run that unknown DNA sample through CODIS, which is the FBI’s DNA database for our country. That’s usually the first stop anyways if you have an unknown DNA sample at a crime scene is to input it into that database and see if there’s a match to someone whose DNA has already been uploaded to it. So if there’s no match there, then they’ve exhausted one resource.

But they also have to have uploaded the case and the information about the case into ViCAP, which is the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program, also run by the FBI and that’s designed to track and correlate information on violent crimes. Especially if you think one homicide, for example, might have the same perpetrator as a second homicide in another jurisdiction. ViCAP helps organize that information and provide clues on violent crimes that might be linked to each other. And so they have to upload the information to ViCAP and then wait and see if anything comes out of that.

And if not, they have to move on to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, which is a open-source system accessible to actually everybody in our country but it’s geared towards families of missing persons and law enforcement professionals, medical examiners, and coroners, and people like that. And of course, the idea is to assist in solving these cases of missing persons or unidentified victims from violent crime in the U.S.

Glynn Cosker: And you mentioned that some of these are available to Joe Public. And from what I know about GEDmatch, too, anybody can join that, is that correct?

Jen Bucholtz: That’s correct. Anybody can join it. Anybody can upload their DNA profile into it and see the results of that. As of now, from what I’ve read, there’s about 1.45 million people who have registered with GEDmatch and uploaded their DNA information.

Glynn Cosker: And when they do that, for instance, if I was to do that, I am effectively by accepting their terms of service signing off on a few things there. Is that correct?

Jen Bucholtz: Well, that’s changed recently. So originally there was no term of service to include or exclude law enforcement from using the database. And originally there was no option for people using it to opt-in or out of allowing law enforcement to use their DNA to potentially match an unknown perpetrator of a crime.

Now, as of last year, when you sign up, you are given the option to opt-in or opt-out. And so you can opt-in and allow your profile to be viewable to law enforcement for investigative purposes. But if you’re not comfortable with that, you now have the choice to make your DNA sample essentially invisible to law enforcement. So the users now have control over their privacy setting.

Glynn Cosker: Of course, the privacy setting stems to people’s Fourth Amendment right, obviously unreasonable searches and such. Now from a legal standpoint, I guess that’s why there is this option to opt-out. It brings up an ethical question that’s popping into my mind, is that, do I want my DNA out there for the world to have access to and the government to have access to? If I do want that, then I’m helping society because I could do this and I might solve a crime somehow, right?

Jen Bucholtz: That’s absolutely correct. And a lot of people are perfectly fine with that. I know I am. Yeah, I would have no issue with my genetic profile being used to help find somebody like the Golden State Killer. And it doesn’t even have to be a perpetrator to his level, but one person who’s committed one violent crime, I still don’t believe that they should be walking free. And so if I could assist in some way to identify those people, I’m more than happy to do so.

Something I wanted to touch on is that the user’s actual DNA profile is not what’s stored in the database. So although initially you upload your DNA analysis results, which come from a third party company, those are basically coded and then the original DNA profile is deleted. So you cannot actually access a person’s DNA profile through GEDmatch.

It’s actually, you’re just given a code essentially that identifies your DNA as unique to everybody else’s. But if somebody hacked the system, it’s not like they have 1.45 million people’s DNA profile all of a sudden, then they could go around setting people up to take the fall for crimes or anything like that or use it for insurance reasons. It’s not possible.

Glynn Cosker: And I think that there’s a lot of people who don’t know what you just said, and people need to be educated on what’s really happening when one uploads their DNA to and various third parties. It’s not science fiction. It’s not “Minority Report” or some sort of future crime thing that is going to affect society. There are some mechanisms and rules and guidelines that are in place to protect people’s identity and their privacy, correct?

Jen Bucholtz: That’s absolutely right. So again, if somebody breached the website and got access to user profiles, or what you would think is a DNA profile, it’s actually just a converted coded format. And it would tell you nothing about the identity of the person it’s attached to and it would tell you nothing about their DNA profile. So it would be useless.

Glynn Cosker: But the police can use it?

Jen Bucholtz: Correct, yes, like I said. Again, the police don’t actually get access to anybody’s DNA profile. They are simply getting access to potential relatives that match up to their unknown profile.

Glynn Cosker: And of course, back in the day, all of the physical evidence that was taken from a crime scene was documented and put away in some warehouse or freezer. And it was forward-thinking of course, that the crime scene investigators that did that in the ’70s before DNA was even a thing, but it wasn’t obviously accessible to solve a crime.

But now they’re going back to that stuff, back to that physical evidence, and they’re opening up their cold case files and saying, “Oh, look here. Joe Schmoe was our number one suspect back in 1975, and he’s still around. And we kept all that DNA and all that forensic stuff from the crime scene. Let’s go snag that.”

And now we’ve got our unknown suspect’s DNA, but then we can compare it using the family trees, GEDmatch, and all the things we’ve discussed so far and come up with evidence that could lead to an arrest, right?

Jen Bucholtz: That’s totally correct. A hundred percent. And a lot of agencies were forward-thinking back then. Some of it turned out to be lucky in a way, because it’s standard protocol that if you have an unsolved homicide, for example, you don’t destroy any of the evidence collected from that crime scene until the crime’s been solved.

Jen Bucholtz: But with new DNA analysis technology, that’s gone hand in hand with the genetic genealogy in a way, because they may have saved say a T-shirt off of a murder victim back in the day. We’re unable to pull any identifying DNA information off of it. But nowadays with new analysis technology, they might be able to pull Touch DNA off that T-shirt.

They amplify that DNA sample to make it bigger and easier to analyze and then all of a sudden they have the DNA of the perpetrator, and they didn’t even realize they saved it. They just thought they were saving this T-shirt. And so there’s been so many amazing advances that have really helped this field.

Glynn Cosker: And I would imagine there are quite a few people out there, serial killers and such, who have not been arrested yet. They’re probably just waiting for that knock on the door, I hope, because truth will get you in the end and this is the sort of thing that will lead to many, many more cold cases being solved and lots of victims’ families getting some sort of closure on the crime that was committed involving their loved ones, et cetera.

Now I’m speaking of one of the biggest crimes that this has led to an arrest and a conviction in, of course, it’s the Golden State Killer that you made reference to earlier, Jen. His real name is Joseph DeAngelo and of course, he was sentenced just last week to life imprisonment, without the possibility of parole, for at least 13 murders that were obviously, until recently, some of the coldest cases in the U.S. So why don’t you tell us how the FBI finally got their guy using forensic genealogy?

Jen Bucholtz: Joseph DeAngelo had a string of crimes over many years in the ’70s and ’80s that went unsolved. And it wasn’t even until not that long before his arrest, that they realized that not only did he have this string of crimes, but they were a string of crimes throughout California, not just one geographical location. And so one big finding before his arrest was discovering that the set of crimes in Visalia was related to a set of crimes in Orange County and all committed by the same person. So then it became a matter of figuring out who this one person was.

And so there’s a gentleman named Paul Holes. He is a retired investigator for the Contra Costa County DA’s office in California. And he worked this case for years and years, and he and some of his colleagues came up with the idea of using an open-source genetic database to try to identify the perpetrator behind these horrible crimes. And so that’s the first time that this technique was used and obviously it worked. But they uploaded the unknown DNA sample to GEDmatch and when I saw Paul Holes speak and give a presentation at CrimeCon two years ago, he explained that, if I remember correctly, they got two distant relative matches back.

And so, as we discussed earlier, that became a rather tedious process to piece together that entire family tree. But one of the steps they take is figuring out how those two relatives are linked to each other and then that helps build out the rest of the family tree. But you don’t just build this family tree and identify a suspect. There’s more to it.

You basically are narrowing it down to the most likely person or persons in that family tree. If you can prove that they lived in the geographical area where the crimes took place, that their age and their gender and all of that matches up to suspect information, even then you haven’t fully identified your suspect because you have to know that it’s their DNA.

Glynn Cosker: Yeah. You have to grab that somehow, right?

Jen Bucholtz: That’s correct. And of course you don’t want to alert the person that they’re under surveillance.

Glynn Cosker: No, you don’t.

Jen Bucholtz: So what happens in most of these cases and what happened with DeAngelo is the person will throw something away, whether it’s a cigarette butt, a cup, and law enforcement will retrieve it because once you throw something, either on the ground or in a trash can, it’s public property, it’s not private property anymore. So you’ve given up your Fourth Amendment right at that point by throwing it away.

And so that’s what they did with DeAngelo was obtain an item that he threw away. They took it to the lab. They got the DNA profile off it, and it matched the ones from all of those crime scenes throughout California. And so that’s when he was arrested and identified as the Golden State Killer. And so then of course that’s when genetic genealogy really took off and became a hot topic in the media.

Glynn Cosker: It certainly is a hot topic and it’s going to continue to be hot because by your estimation, how many cold cases are there out there that would benefit from this sort of technology?

Jen Bucholtz: Well, right now in our country, my understanding is we have over a hundred thousand unsolved homicides and rapes. So potentially we’re talking tens of thousands could benefit from this.

Glynn Cosker: That goes back to that ethical issue, right? Why not just have everybody, if they’re willing to do it, if they’re not guilty of anything, they’ve got nothing to lose, and they could help solve some of these crimes.

Jen Bucholtz: I completely agree. I’m on board with it. Some people just don’t feel comfortable being involved, which is fair.

Glynn Cosker: That’s their right, to have that opinion of course. A lot of people have that opinion, and we respect it. But as far as this particular case, the Golden State Killer, there must be some detectives that they’ve long passed and this guy was just living a normal life. And if it wasn’t for this new field of forensic science, he’d be free right now.

And like I said earlier, there must be hundreds, thousands of people out there who this is going to be something that they’re going to keep an eye on because obviously what they thought they were going to get away with 40 years ago. Not anymore, not if this particular branch of forensic science continues to grow the way it is. I see, and I don’t know if you agree, but I see that number of 50 or 60 cold cases that have been solved using this now, going up into the thousands by the end of this decade. What do you think?

Jen Bucholtz: I would imagine so. Probably before the end of the decade. A little bit of a challenge I think right now is the resources because law enforcement… Most agencies have to outsource this genealogy work, which of course costs money. And I don’t know how many genetic genealogists there are in the U.S. but my feeling is that they’re quite short on people with that type of expertise at the moment.

Glynn Cosker: But GEDmatch has them though, right?

Jen Bucholtz: I believe they do. And there’s also Parabon Labs. They are the biggest civilian source of genetic genealogists that assist law enforcement currently. A lot of the genetic genealogists that help with these cases work for the company Parabon. But again, it’s a civilian company. I’m sure that law enforcement agencies are trying to establish some sort of training program, so they could have their own genealogists on staff internally. But I don’t know the details of what those plans are and every jurisdiction is different in terms of their budget and their funding and what they’re capable of doing.

Glynn Cosker: And this question just popped into my head as well. Does this sort of technology help solve unidentified victims in any way?

Jen Bucholtz: And I wanted to bring that up. So not only can we catch perpetrators or unidentified suspects, but this technology has helped identify unknown victims because there are many victims of murder out there, and they’re still considered a Jane Doe or a John Doe. We don’t know who they are. They’ve never been identified. And so this technology can help us at least figure out who these unidentified victims are, contact their family. And so that’s another really huge benefit of this advancement.

Glynn Cosker: Absolutely. I don’t see any negative things associated with it, to be honest. I think it should be something that should become part of everyday criminal justice law enforcement activities. We did discuss the privacy issues, but it’s no different from the police conducting a surveillance on somebody that they believe is a suspect in a crime. They’re just doing it via family trees and genealogy, right?

Jen Bucholtz: Right. Basically, yes. That’s a pretty good analogy. It’s just another tool that they can use to narrow down a suspect pool. And I was going to give you the numbers that I looked up last week, but most recent numbers show that about 280,000 members of GEDmatch have opted in for law enforcement, which is positive. Although, that means there’s a million that opted out.

Glynn Cosker: So that’s about 20%.

Jen Bucholtz: Yeah, it’d be fantastic if we can persuade some of those people to opt-in and ease these privacy concerns about that.

Glynn Cosker: I think the best way to ease those concerns is to discuss it like we are and get the word out that law enforcement does not have a big cabinet full of people’s DNA that they can just go and use to fake someone’s death or whatever. Some of the outlandish things that some people think is going on with this, right?

Jen Bucholtz: Right. Another big fear is that an insurance company could get a hold of everybody’s DNA profile and then determine, oh, this person’s at increased risk for stroke or diabetes or whatever it may be. So we’re going to deny them insurance. Again, like we talked about earlier, your DNA profile isn’t actually in the database. So it wouldn’t do the insurance company any good. It wouldn’t provide them any personal information about your genetics.

Glynn Cosker: You’ve hit the nail on the head. I think most people’s concern is based on a situation that you just mentioned, health insurance. And people think that because of this new science, that if I upload my DNA to a third party and because I didn’t check a box it ends up in GEDmatch or one of these similar databases, that people somehow will be able to find out that Joe Public here has a history of cancer or stroke or whatever in their family. And it’s going to affect how health insurance and life insurance and all that kind of thing is dispersed. But we’re here to tell you, everybody, that that’s not the case. It’s not possible.

So hopefully if people are listening and can take that on board, then we will get that percentage of people who are opting in to help law enforcement up to closer to 100%. Because like I said earlier, there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain. And the biggest gain is some closure for the victims’ families. And of course, for the detectives who have been trying to figure out these crimes for up to 40 years plus, right?

Jen Bucholtz: Exactly. They’ve spent so many years and hours working on these cases.

Glynn Cosker: Yeah. And that goes back to how long it takes. You said that it is quite meticulous and time-consuming to go through a family tree, eight different branches or 24 different branches of a family tree dating back to the 1800s. But at the same time, when you’re talking about a cold case that was 40, 45 years ago, then that’s how long it’s been cold. Then the short amount of time it takes to actually pinpoint a new suspect or confirm an old suspect, that short amount of time is definitely worth it.

Jen Bucholtz: Yeah. Comparatively speaking, it’s not that much time in the scheme of things. And if anybody watched the recent series on ABC called “The Genetic Detective” starring CeCe Moore, she explained that a lot of cases that she works on, where she builds these family trees and identifies the most likely suspect, will take her eight hours. That’s not the case with all of them, but she’s the expert in this field. She’s the leading expert.

Glynn Cosker: She is solid gold rockstar in this field.

Jen Bucholtz: Even if it takes a week or two weeks. To me, that’s very reasonable to put together this family tree and identify a suspect.

Glynn Cosker: Of course, Joseph DeAngelo, the Golden State Killer, is not the only person. There’s been a few other high profile cases. You want to discuss any of those and how genetic genealogy helped solve those cases?

Jen Bucholtz: Well, so Joseph DeAngelo’s case was the first one solved with genetic genealogy. And the second case that was solved was the one in which a young man named Jay Cook was a murder victim. And this was also from many, many years… Decades ago. Unsolved homicide that went cold for so many years.

Well, in using this new technology, they uploaded unknown DNA found at that crime scene and GEDmatch came back with two second cousins that share the genetic material to whoever had left the DNA at the scene. That’s pretty good. If you can get second cousins, that’s not too far away. So closer relatives. So it makes a little easier for that. The genealogist did their magic, built the family tree and identified a man by the name of William Earl Talbott.

And again, they looked at Talbott’s past history. Where did he live? What’s his age? What did he look like? Everything matched up with what they knew about this homicide. And so they put surveillance on Talbott. He discarded, I think it was a soda cup or something, and the police retrieved it in order to obtain his DNA sample. And it was a perfect match. And so that resulted in an arrest. And so, that was the second case in our country. They used forensic genetic genealogy and then like we’ve talked about, there’s been dozens since then, and there will be surely hundreds more, thousands more most likely.

Glynn Cosker: Hopefully thousands more because what you’ve just described is the usual standard procedure that is going to lead to hopefully the arrests of thousands of people. And it’s hard to think about how back then when the detectives and the law enforcement were investigating these crimes, it must have been so frustrating because this technology… When DNA first became a crime-solving forensic substance, the technology wasn’t there, and it must’ve been frustrating for detectives back in the ’80s and ’90s to kind of, well, we think this is our guy but the technology wasn’t there.

And now of course, it is. It’s even there for people who, like this case that you’ve just mentioned, all it takes is somebody discarding their styrofoam cup. 30 years ago, you needed actual vials of blood and bodily fluids and everything and that. And even then, most juries were a bit hesitant to convict someone based on DNA. But that whole tide has changed, completely gone a 180 and now DNA is… That’s what you need to convict someone. And the fact that you can just smoke a cigarette for 30 seconds and throw it away and that’s what gets you now. So all of this can only result in, like we’ve said, the perpetrators in these crimes paying for their crimes.

Jen Bucholtz: Yes. I think so, too. And better late than never, I guess. But yeah, we didn’t… In our country really the first big case that used DNA was the O.J. Simpson case. Even though it was proved that the DNA found at the crime scene in his house, it was like one in a trillion chance that it was not O.J.’s blood. Unfortunately, that information just wasn’t conveyed to the jury well enough. It was just such a complicated concept back then that nobody was familiar with. And so they just really didn’t understand it. That was part of the problem with that case.

But nowadays, a lot of people really are up on true crime, and they at least understand that DNA is like… If this is a match and it’s one in a trillion, well, there’s probably not another person on earth that that DNA could match to.

Glynn Cosker: I think people’s common sense has come a long way since 1995. It’s all relative to the times. In 1995 obviously, like I said earlier, people were a little bit hesitant about DNA. But it’s interesting, that crime took place in the mid-’90s. And of course, it was the trial of the century, but how many cold cases were there in 1994 that still… Or in the mid-’90s in general that are sitting there unsolved, which could now be solved because of the evidence similar to the O.J. Simpson evidence that was taken at that scene. Of course, that’s all history now, but the DNA evidence or the forensic evidence that was taken at all those other cold cases that year could now be reinvestigated and reopened.

Jen Bucholtz: Absolutely. I think so. And hopefully, we’ll see that happening as resources allow. I think it needs to happen. That’s what our law enforcement agencies are here for. And of course, they’re investigating ongoing crimes and current crimes too, but I do believe it’s important to take a look back now that we can use all this new technology because we’ve proved, we know we can solve a lot of these cases now.

Glynn Cosker: Just one last question, if I may, we’re talking about this as a whole and the way the FBI, in particular, has used it to solve cold cases but do you envision a time where your local town, your smaller communities will have access to this type of crime-solving science as well?

Jen Bucholtz: I do. There’s already resources in place for jurisdictions that have really limited resources. There’s actually a lot of nonprofit organizations out there that can help with various aspects of investigation or evidence analysis if a particular agency doesn’t have a forensic lab or the budget or the expertise to do that.

And jurisdictions can also call the federal government. They can call the FBI for help if they need it. That’s partly why the FBI is there is to help some of these smaller jurisdictions. They’ve just been unable to solve a case, or they just don’t have the right forensic equipment or whatever it may be. They can call upon the FBI to step in and assist. And they’ll do that.

Glynn Cosker: I think that it’s a science that can only benefit society, and I hope that it continues to grow. And I hope that people, by listening to an expert such as yourself can come away and learn that it’s safe. It’s not invading on people’s privacy. There are strict guidelines in place. To upload one’s DNA to one of these third-party sites is not going to affect your privacy or your security. That’s a fact.

Now people can agree or disagree and that’s their right to do so but from our point of view, Jen, I think we agree that this is a safe procedure that can only help future generations and also help solve these crimes that date back many decades.

Jen Bucholtz: Mm-hmm. It is. I don’t see any negative.

Glynn Cosker: All right, well Jen, I want to thank you for being my guest today. And I know that you will be a future guest, and we will be discussing various aspects of some of the things that you are an expert in, and I’m looking forward to the next time we can chat. But for now, this is Glynn Cosker, your host of AMU Disaster Crew. Tune in next time for another episode. Thank you very much.

Glynn Cosker is a Managing Editor at AMU Edge. In addition to his background in journalism, corporate writing, web and content development, Glynn served as Vice Consul in the Consular Section of the British Embassy located in Washington, D.C. Glynn is located in New England.

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