The Golden State Killer’s arrest last week brought closure to victims and community members affected by a ten year spree of rapes and murder. The trail went cold in 1986, and it stayed that way until the FBI made a fake profile for the killer on a genealogy website. They used this to trace 500 partial matches, screen for 100 potential matches, and eventually narrow down to former police officer Joseph DeAngelo.
Because the killer had a tactical background, he was nearly uncatchable by the tools that have historically been available to law enforcement. But some major legal and ethical alarm bells went off at the methods that were ultimately used.
In criminal investigations, does the end justify the means? Does that answer change based on the severity of the crime? And what are the ramifications of the 499 people who were closely surveilled without any culpability?
To tease out those complexities, Bill was joined by Malia Fullerton, associate professor of bioethics and humanities at the University of Washington School of Medicine, and by Steve Mercer, former chief attorney of the forensics division at the Office of the Public Defender of Maryland.