Illustration by Mia Turner
After years of evasion, the Golden State killer has finally been caught — by none other than DNA technology. Back in the 1970s, this kind of revolutionary crime solving agent was unfathomable; in fact, the first time it was used was in 1986, a mere 32 years ago. Technology has come a very long way in those 32 years, and we now have the power to solve murder mysteries no one ever thought would be solved. Thanks to DNA technology, the future of law enforcement is very bright.
The Golden State killer, or Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., was a burglar and rapist whose attacks spanned from 1974 to 1986 and gradually progressed to murder. On April 25, authorities announced that they had arrested 72-year-old DeAngelo on eight counts of first-degree murder. They were finally able to come to this conclusion with the help of DNA evidence.
Bruce Harrington, the brother of one Golden State victim, has been advocating for the usage of such technology for over a decade. In 2004, he and Orange County sheriff Larry Pool successfully directed efforts to pass Prop 69, which requires all arrested felons to provide DNA samples. His accomplishments have allowed the California DNA database to grow substantially. In a speech given last month, he assured families of victims that the DeAngelo’s arrest would finally “bring closure to the anguish we’ve all suffered for the last 40 odd years.”
If someone directly affected by the serial murders is content with this arrest, then we should be praising DNA technology with every bone in our bodies. One of the most notorious serial killers in United States history has been convicted after decades of investigation, and it’s all thanks to DNA technology. Hopefully, this will open the door to other forensic scientists who would like to rummage around in past unsolved murders and put a cap on them.
Additionally, law enforcement should become better in general. Perpetrators are now easily identifiable through their DNA, as are victims. In fact, many bodies deemed unidentifiable are now able to be identified through this modern technology. Equally important is the newfound ability to prove both suspects and convicted felons innocent; many people on death row have been freed after investigations using DNA technology, meaning DNA technology saves lives.
Technology is good, no matter how scary it becomes. It has done incredible things for society, with one example being catching the guy that committed at least 12 murders and over 50 rapes in California forty years ago. In the future, it will to add to the precision of our law enforcement, and even better humanity.
DNA technology allows law enforcement to reach a level of effectiveness that it has never reached before. Although the science behind it may seem like sheer sorcery, we should embrace it and all its ability.