Familial DNA Searching - A Critical Tool
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Monday, November 01, 2010

Since the July 2010 arrest of the serial killer Lonnie Franklin Jr., known as the "Grim Sleeper," in Los Angeles, California, some civil rights attorneys have raised concerns about the use of Familial DNA Searching technique.  Currently, this new technique is only available and legally recognized in two states: California and Colorado.  California has expended significant resources to ensure that the use of familial searching follows the law and rules promulgated by the state.  Many of these policies were spearheaded by Rockne Harmon, a retired Alameda County prosecutor and now a forensic legal consultant.  Harmon, who has prosecuted many murderers and rapists over his career has stated that familial DNA searching "Is just another tool to help us exploit DNA evidence to its fullest potential.  Why shouldn't we take advantage of that?"  Frederick Bieber, a medical geneticist at Brigham and Women's Hospital and associate professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School concurs.  He was recently quoted in a article as stating, "For those of us who support the judicious use of familial DNA searching in the US, this case is the Holy Grail we've been searching for."   Harmon, Bieber, and other proponents of familial DNA searching hope that the Grim Sleeper case will motivate more states to create a policy that gives investigators permission to implement this powerful technique.

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