Los Angeles Times

False starts in search for Golden State Killer reveal pitfalls of DNA testing

Four decades into the hunt for the Golden State Killer, investigators thought they finally had a break.

By comparing DNA found at the crime scene against genealogy websites, they homed in on a 73-year-old man in an Oregon nursing home. The man had a rare genetic mutation found in only 2.3 percent of Caucasians in the database. They suspected he could be the killer or the killer's relative.

Early last year, a judge in Clackamas County gave authorities permission to obtain his DNA - by force if necessary.

He was one of two men whose DNA piqued the interest of investigators but were later ruled out as suspects.

The failed leads were overshadowed by last week's capture of suspect Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., in a Sacramento suburb - an arrest that also hinged on the innovative tactic of comparing crime scene DNA with genealogy site data.

Prosecutors are now

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