Author: Curtis Rogers


Withe the capture of the Golden State Killer forensics underwent the greatest revolution since law enforcement started using fingerprints more than 100 years ago.  For the first time it became possible to solve cases in which there had been no person of interest and investigations were at a dead end.  I was at the center of this revolution: my website, GEDmatch, was the only genealogy database available for use by law enforcement.

My book has 49,700 w0rds.  It is a record of the beginning history of this revolution based on my experience.  It also includes insights into many true crime cases that are of interest to this genre.  These cases range from the Lindbergh kidnapping to the unsolved Zodiac murderer.




Foreword. 1

1       The Announcement 3

2       Golden State Killer. 6

3       DNA and Investigative Genealogy (IGG) 12

4       How the Golden State Killer Got His Name  17

5       DNA First Forensic Use. 21

6       Early Publicity. 25

7       Lisa. 30

8       Jane and John Does. 37

9       The DNA Doe Project 40

10         Another Zodiac Killer Candidate. 45

11         IGG: Its Time Had Come. 49

12         The Key Decision. 55

13         Getting It Right 58

14         A Surprise Controversy. 66

15         Without GEDmatch. 68

16         Early Ethics/Standards. 72

17         Banbury Meeting. 76

18         The First Court Case. 79

19         Mind-Blowing Cost Considerations. 85

20         Misconceptions. 92

21         IGG Impact on the Living. 96

22         International Genealogy Interest 102

23         DNA in China. 104

24         Other Uses of Genetic Genealogy. 110

25         Mementos. 118

26         Future of IGG.. 124

27         Sale of GEDmatch. 128

References. 135

INDEX. 141



In early 2018 I found myself in the middle of uncharted territory and needing a roadmap to give me direction.  A peaceful website I had formed as part of my genealogy hobby had taken a giant sidestep that garnered international attention.  It was announced that my site, GEDmatch, had been used to capture the Golden State Killer.  He was perhaps the most vicious criminal of the 21st century.  Suddenly my website and I were the center of unwanted attention extending from vindictive criticism to accolades.  Most agreed that a revolution was being born.


The main use of GEDmatch was to compare parts of DNA between two people to identify how they are related.  Often, they did not know each other, they only knew they were related because they shared some DNA.  Our users were generally genealogy hobbyists who had been tested by one of several genealogy testing companies, then placed their information on GEDmatch to find relatives who were tested by a different genealogy DNA testing company.  GEDmatch did not do testing.


Almost simultaneously several people realized that the genealogy process could also be used to name unidentified human remains and solve cold cases.  DNA had been used by law enforcement for several years, but it was a different type of DNA than used by genealogists.  The DNA used by law enforcement could only give a “yes” or “no” as to whether the DNA from a crime scene matched the DNA of a suspect.  It was useless if there was no suspect.  The DNA genealogists used to find unknown distant relatives could also be used to find a suspect even if there had been no suspect or person of interest previously.  Suddenly a huge backlog of violent crime cold cases plus active cases and giving names to Jane and John Does could be solved.  It was revolutionary!


However, it also had a big drawback: it required using DNA from people who had no idea their DNA was being used in this manner.  Hence my quandary: how should we handle this?  One thought was to learn how a previous similar revolution, the use of fingerprints by law enforcement, was handled.  I researched the fingerprint revolution and found almost no relevant information.  I determined that the same lack of information should not occur with the revolution I experienced.  Hence this book.


Curtis Rogers



1         The Announcement
The evening news on Wednesday, April 25, 2018, announced that a serial killer, called the Golden State Killer, had just been arrested in California.  The arrest was credited to “an advanced form of DNA.”   I turned to my wife and commented, “Do you suppose they are talking about us?”  The question was only half serious.  There was very little possibility they were referring to my company, GEDmatch.  I forgot I had asked that question until several tumultuous months later.


GEDmatch was a website I created in 2010 to share a genealogy program with fellow genealogists.  It was a free site run by volunteers.  Initially it served two functions.  First was a program for comparing family trees.  A type of DNA that had recently become available to genealogical use, had resulted in genealogists discovering large numbers of previously unknown matches with living ancestors.  Hours of time were spent emailing these new matches, trying to determine what surnames their ancestors had in common.  I figured it would be more productive to simply compare their whole family trees and was fortunate to find a person with the ability to write the program.  That person, John Olson, did not have a background in genealogy but wrote a program for sharing family trees that was so good I felt it had to be shared with other genealogists.  I was able to talk John into writing some other programs and eventually made him my partner.


The second initial purpose of the site was that people tested on any of the several genealogy testing sites could put their DNA results on GEDmatch and therefore find common relatives with people who were tested by different testing companies.  At the time, the testing companies allowed matching of DNA only with other people they had tested.  GEDmatch did not do DNA testing and therefore was not in competition with the testing companies.


Two days after the announcement, early Friday morning, I received an email sent the previous evening from California by a leading genealogist, CeCe Moore.  CeCe, a friend, had previously urged me to meet with Parabon NanoLabs, a company that had done work with law enforcement (more on this later).  CeCe emailed with the information that in a new press conference, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office had named GEDmatch as the source of the “advanced form of DNA” used to capture one of the most wanted criminals of the 20th century, Joseph DeAngelo, the Golden State Killer.


DeAngelo had terrorized the entire State of California for more than a decade.  He had ransacked hundreds of residences, raped and murdered.  In some cases, he further terrorized his molested victims by calling them years later, telling them in a rasping, whispering, frightening voice, “I’m going to kill you.”

My office was a small residential home in a quiet neighborhood in Lake Worth, Florida.  By the time I arrived at my office that Friday morning, the neighborhood was swarming with reporters.  The narrow side street on which the office was located was nearly blocked by news satellite trucks.  Undoubtedly neighbors were hanging by their windows.  A reporter knocked on the door of one nearby neighbor, a single lady, to ask about me.  The neighbor, of course, asked what was going on.  The reporter started explaining, “Well, there is this serial killer…” The neighbor shrieked, “Oh my God, I have been in that house alone with him!!!!!”  Fortunately, she did not faint before the reporter quickly explained, “No, that’s not him.  He helped to catch the killer.”


It was a rainy day; the reporters wanted to come inside.  I felt guilty but refused them.  I had several reasons. First, because I was a Professional Guardian.  Courts had appointed me to be legally responsible for the care of mostly elderly wards.   I had checks and personal information relating to my wards lying in sight.  Second, I didn’t trust reporters because I had a recent bad experience in which a reporter had written an article based on his “agenda,” his opinion of guardianship abuses, which was the opposite of the information I had provided to him.  I did not want again to face reporters who might have their own agenda.  Finally, this was happening too quickly and I wanted to figure out if we were violating the expectations of our database members.  Other than relatively meaningless statements (“I was unaware of the GEDmatch use …”), I avoided interviews for weeks.


Ultimately, I was encouraged to do an interview with the New York Times.  But that is getting ahead of my story.


1         Golden State Killer
The marriage of Joseph DeAngelo with Sharon Huddle in the fall of 1973 seemed ideal.  Both were 22.  They met while both were in college where he, a former Naval officer and Vietnam veteran, was studying criminology.  She was studying for a law degree in family law and ultimately became a divorce attorney.  DeAngelo joined the Exeter, California, police force the year of their marriage. The Sacramento Bee, in making the wedding announcement, described DeAngelo as a promising new policeman.


What Sharon apparently did not know was that during the first year of their marriage, her new husband was breaking into and ransacking homes, lots of them. By the end of their second year of marriage, 1975, he had robbed more than100 homes, most of which were in Visalia, a town about 11 miles from Exeter.  The local population was terrorized; the culprit became known as the Visalia Ransacker.


There was a pattern to these early DeAngelo break-ins.  He generally entered through a window or, less often, through a sliding door.  He then opened many other points of exit.  It was apparently important to DeAngelo to impress on his victims that he had control over their lives.  He would rummage through and leave open every drawer in the house and occasionally cause damage such as overturning a bookshelf or pouring wine on the carpet.  He paid special attention to women’s underclothes, separating them from other clothing and often placing them in suggestive patterns.  There was evidence in some cases that he would use hand lotion and masturbate during his activities.  His thefts centered around mementos such as wedding rings and other personalized jewelry, collections, piggy banks, etc.  He once left found money on the homeowner’s bed.  A favorite theft was to steal one earring.


Two notable incidents occurred near the end of the Visalia Ransacker’s terrorization. In early morning hours of September 11, 1975, the Ransacker, wearing a ski mask, attempted to abduct a sleeping 16-year-old girl.  The girl’s father, Claude Snelling, awoke, caught DeAngelo in the act, but was shot twice when he challenged DeAngelo.  Claude died almost immediately.  DeAngelo let go of the girl and escaped.  This murder was the first killing to which DeAngelo would later admit guilt.

Surprisingly, rather than hiding following this event, DeAngelo’s activities escalated.  Stalking and peeping increased significantly.  He began the despicable practice of making harassing and silent calls to potential victims. Silent calls were frightening because this was decades before cell phones and robocalls.  A silent call could mean someone was checking to determine if you were home or if there was a male in the house.  Telephone directories gave names and addresses.  Reports of prowlers and unusual activities from the terrified community overwhelmed law enforcement.  One wonders if DeAngelo was not basking in the thought that he now was proving to a whole community what he had previously done on an individual household basis – that he could control their lives.


The second notable incident prior to the ending of Visalia Ransacker’s activities was in December 1975, three months after the Snelling murder.  Visalia police were staked out at a house that had been previously ransacked and more recently there had been tracks indicating someone was peeping.  The peeper, DeAngelo, showed up as predicted.  He pretended to surrender to police but pulled a gun and shot at one of the officers.  Fortunately, the bullet hit the officer’s flashlight, which he was holding in front of his body, saving the officer’s life.  DeAngelo escaped, dropping items from a ransacking earlier that evening.


DeAngelo’s career with the Exeter police force was brief.  Early the next year DeAngelo left the Exeter police force and joined the police force in Auburn, California.  It had been just two years since DeAngelo joined the Exeter police department and only two years into his, so far childless, marriage.  Auburn is a larger city than Exeter.  It is located about 250 miles north of Exeter and about 30 miles from the capital city, Sacramento.


Reports of ransacking in the Visalia area quickly trickled to a halt while reports of rapes in Sacramento’s eastern suburbs began to escalate.  By mid-April 1978, some 32 rape attacks on single women and girls had been reported, mostly in the Rancho Cordova, Carmichael, and Citrus Heights areas of Sacramento.  Then in April there was a change in tactics, and the East Area Rapist, as he came to be called, began attacking homes where a male and female couple lived.


Despite the violence escalation to include rape, some of the methods of the East Area Rapist and the Visalia Ransacker were similar.  The East Area Rapist entered the home through a window or sliding door late at night.  He had apparently been in the home previously and unlocked points of entry.  He would wear a ski mask and shine a flashlight into the victim’s faces, asking if they could see the knife or gun he was holding and telling them to obey or he would kill them.  He assured his victims that he was there to steal, not to harm them.  The victims would be tied.  If a male was one of the victims, he would be put in a room separate from the female.  Dinner plates would be placed on the man’s back and he would be told that if any were heard to fall, both the woman and he would be killed.  The perpetrator would rape the woman, rummage through drawers stealing personal items, and make himself at home by helping himself to beer and food from the refrigerator, returning periodically to rape again.  The attack could last two or three hours.  There were silent periods, and the rapist might go outside or he might have been resting.  The victims could not be sure when he finally left.


The perpetrator’s mask effectively hid identifiable facial features. However, women consistently reported one feature that was identifiable. The rapist had a very small penis.  So small that some teenagers who were raped by him continued to retain their hymen.


The East Area Rapist committed murders. His brutality and terrorism put northern California into a panic.  Events were canceled, friends and neighbors were suspected, and the tiniest of unusual events were reported to police.  Even now, victims who lived in the northern part of the state at the time tell how their fears still affect their lives 40 or more years later.  In 1979, nearly three years after joining the Auburn Police, DeAngelo was caught shoplifting a hammer and dog repellent and was fired.  A search of his home revealed a stash of other items he had stolen from stores.  His arrest marked the end of the East Area Rapist reign.  His probable final attack occurred July 10, 1979, in Danville, a city in the San Francisco area.  The attempt was botched when the intended victim woke while the perpetrator was putting on his mask.


In 1981, after DeAngelo had committed more than 50 rapes, as many as 200 house entries and several murders, and after eight years of marriage, DeAngelo and his wife had their first child, a girl.  They were to have two more children, also girls.


At the time of his first child’s birth, DeAngelo’s attacks had moved south to Orange, Ventura, and Santa Barbara Counties in the Los Angeles area. As happened with his previous move to the Sacramento area, the violence of his attacks escalated yet again.  His attacks in Southern California resulted in at least 10 murders.  He became known as the Original Night Stalker.  His apparent last attack was against an 18-year-old woman, May 4, 1986.  After that, other than some terrorizing phone calls to previous victims, there were no more known violent attacks by DeAngelo.  Why is unknown.  In 1989, he began working for the Save Mart grocery chain as a mechanic.  He held that job 27 years, retiring one year before his arrest as the Golden State Killer.


It was not proven that the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker were the same person until the advent of DNA forensics made it possible in 2000.  The following year, it was discovered that the Visalia Ransacker had the same DNA as the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker.  Michelle McNamara, a woman who had doggedly pursued the case, linked the three criminal names into one: “The Golden State Killer.”


Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., the Golden State Killer, was finally captured on Tuesday, April 24, 2018.  His arrest was credited to an advanced form of DNA, previously unknown to the public.  It had been more than 45 years since DeAngelo began his criminal career: 45 years of grief on the part of victims and families, 45 years of untold hours of law enforcement investigation.  Now, this most dangerous criminal was behind bars thanks to a new DNA technique.


The day before 72-year-old DeAngelo’s final arrest, he was zooming around Los Angeles freeways on his motorcycle.  When he appeared in court for arraignment three days later, he was in a wheelchair and responding to questions in a barely audible whisper. It is unknown whether this was an attempt by DeAngelo to get sympathy, or was it the reaction of a man who had spent his adult life believing he could control the lives of all California citizens and now finding he had zero control over his own life?


On August 21, 2020, DeAngelo was sentenced to 11 life-without-parole sentences. It was the maximum penalty allowed by law.  DeAngelo also admitted to thirteen murders, fifty rape victims and over two hundred robberies.


DeAngelo and his wife separated in 1991 but remained technically married until she filed for divorce in 2018 following his final arrest.


Did DeAngelo’s wife know?  Our only clue is a limited statement she issued to the court at DeAngelo’s sentencing hearing: “I trusted the defendant when he told me he had to work, or was going pheasant hunting, or going to visit his parents hundreds of miles away.  When I was not around, I trusted he was doing what he told me he was doing.”  She summarized, “I have lost the ability to trust people.”



About the Author

Author Name: Curtis Rogers

I have had a life-long love of all things science.  A hobby I had from the time I was a teenager was genealogy.  In 2010, when autosomal DNA became available for genealogical use, I had a program created that made finding relatives easier using this new tool.  I was so impressed with the program that I started a website, GEDmatch, to share it with fellow genealogists.  It was a free site. I had some more tools developed (I do not write code) and the website became very popular by word of mouth and social media. I was unaware that the site was used to capture the Golden State Killer until the announcement was made.  The publicity I received was overwhelming.  Some of it was based on the fact that an 80 year old man’s website (I was actually only 79 at the time) was used to capture the Golden State Killer

I have written magazine articles about DNA but this is my first book. My education is BS, psychology. MBA, MS Counseling Psychology

Phone: 561809 8551

Mailing Address:

Delray Beach FL