The Golden State Killer was a notorious serial killer, rapist, and burglar who terrorized California for over a decade in the 1970s and 1980s. He was responsible for at least 13 murders, over 50 rapes, and more than 100 burglaries. For decades, his identity remained a mystery until he was finally caught in 2018. This case has fascinated people all around the world, and one of the reasons for this is the innovative strategies that detectives used to catch him. In this blog post, we will discuss some of these strategies.

DNA Analysis

One of the key strategies used by detectives to catch the Golden State Killer was DNA analysis. This involved collecting DNA samples from the crime scenes and comparing them with DNA samples from suspects. However, this was easier said than done, as DNA analysis was in its infancy at the time of the crimes. It wasn’t until 2001 that DNA from the crime scenes was matched to each other, proving that they were committed by the same person. Even then, it took years for investigators to track down the killer’s relatives and collect their DNA to identify a suspect.

Genealogy Databases

Another strategy that played a crucial role in the capture of the Golden State Killer was genealogy databases. In 2018, investigators used a genealogy website called GEDmatch to identify the killer’s relatives. They uploaded the killer’s DNA profile to the website, which then matched it to profiles submitted by his distant relatives. From there, detectives used traditional police work to narrow down the suspects until they found Joseph James DeAngelo, a former police officer who fit the profile.


Surveillance was also an important strategy used by detectives to catch the Golden State Killer. They used both traditional surveillance techniques and modern technology to track the killer’s movements and gather evidence. For example, they used cell phone records to track the suspect’s movements and installed hidden cameras to monitor his behavior. This allowed them to gather crucial evidence that helped them build their case.


Finally, collaboration was another key strategy used by detectives to catch the Golden State Killer. The investigation was a collaborative effort between multiple agencies, including the FBI, local law enforcement, and forensic scientists. They worked together to share information and coordinate their efforts, which allowed them to make progress even when they hit dead ends. Additionally, the use of genealogy databases was made possible by the collaboration between the detectives and the owners of the database.

In conclusion, the strategies used by detectives to catch the Golden State Killer were innovative and groundbreaking. They used DNA analysis, genealogy databases, surveillance, and collaboration to finally bring the killer to justice. This case has shown the power of modern technology and the importance of persistence and teamwork in solving even the most complex crimes.

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