California detectives hope to use the same DNA tracing technology used to find Joseph DeAngelo, the man they suspect of being the Golden State Killer, to hunt down the infamous Zodiac Killer.
The Zodiac Killer fatally stabbed or shot to death five people in Northern California in 1968 and 1969. The killer also terrorized the public by sending cryptograms to the police and newspapers.
The Vallejo Police Department sent two letters written by the Zodiac Killer to a private lab in hopes of finding his DNA on the back of the stamps or envelope flaps that may have been licked, according to the Los Angeles Times. They have said that they hope that the results will help them to obtain a full DNA profile.
“They were confident they would be able to get something off it,” Vallejo Police Detective Terry Poyser told the Sacramento Bee.
In the past investigators have tested various pieces of evidence, including a rope used to tie a victim, in an attempt to find the Zodiac Killer’s DNA profile. But advances in DNA technology have prompted police to try again.
In DeAngelo’s case, investigators used DNA collected at one of the crime scenes and were able to find a partial match to a distant relative of DeAngelo’s using an open-source genealogical website.
Police arrested Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. at his home in Citrus Heights last week.
Authorities suspect that he committed at least 12 slayings and 50 rapes in California between 1976 and 1986.
While some privacy advocates have voiced concerns about using DNA technology to locate suspects in this way DNA databases can also help exonerate innocent suspects — some of whom have spent years behind bars.
Watch the full series of Investigation Discovery’s The Golden State Killer: It’s Not Over on ID GO now!
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Main photo: Joseph DeAngelo (left) [Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office] and a composite sketch of the Zodiac Killer (right) [Wikimedia Commons]