Discovering your ancestors used to mean spending hours in libraries and government offices looking through dusty old books and microfilm.
What you might not have realized is that, with the same test that helped you find your grandparents’ grandparents, you can help law enforcement agencies catch a criminal.
What is GEDmatch?
GEDmatch.com is first and foremost a tool to help individuals locate their relatives. It’s a free site that is commonly used by genetic genealogists for research.
Using the site, you can compare your genetic profile to others in the database, narrow comparisons to a specific family member, and find the proportion of your DNA that comes from a particular ethinictiy group or geographic location.
There are numerous tools listed on the GEDmatch homepage that you can use for different purposes (as pictured below). For first-timers, we recommend starting out with the 3 tools listed above (boxed in red in the image below).
Can Law Enforcement Access My DNA?
This is a concern for many, especially since last week (at the time of this post), a warrant granted in Florida may have set a precedent that opens consumer DNA site, like 23andMe, to law enforcement agencies across the country.
This means that the DNA that over 20 million people have uploaded to these sites could be used as a resource to solve new and cold cases.
The two largest sites, Ancestry and 23andMe, have pledged to keep their users’ information private. However, GEDmatch has only recently restricted police access to records.
Why You Might Want To Register on GEDmatch
Perhaps allowing limited access to your DNA records is a good thing. Allowing law enforcement access to public genealogy sites have allowed them to crack cold cases.
One such case was the Golden State Killer, believed to be Joseph James DeAngelo. Police used GEDmatch to identify DeAngelo, a man who police say committed at least 13 murders, 50 rapes, and over 100 burglaries.
Most recently, CBS’ “48 Hours” featured the 1996 unsolved case of the murder of Angie Dodge. It was GEDmatch that was able to help police solve the 23-year long cold case.
“There are thousands of families depending on GEDmatch for closure to terrible tragedies.” -GEDmatch website
Of course, if you want to only research your DNA and familial connections, you can opt out of allowing access or not upload your information at all.
Would you share your DNA report if it meant
that it could solve a crime?