By Associated Press - Friday, January 24, 2020

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Police in Wichita are looking into using genetic genealogy databases to help solve cold murder and rape cases.

Capt. Jeff Weible said the department isn’t ready to decide whether it will use the technique, which has revolutionized cold-case investigations across the U.S. while also raising legal and privacy concerns.

But to help find out how the technique could be used, the department co-hosted a two-day training conference on it this week. The Wichita Eagle reported that it drew more than 60 people from law enforcement agencies and other organizations in Kansas, Wyoming and California to downtown Wichita.

The conference’s co-host, Gene by Gene, is allowing law enforcement agencies to submit DNA samples and lab data files from certain kinds of cold cases. Gene by Gene then queries its DNA database, Family Tree DNA, for any matches that investigators can use to track down suspects or identify remains.

Gene by Gene lab director Connie Bormans said the company decided to open its database to law enforcement after news broke that investigative genetic genealogy in 2018 helped catch suspected Golden State killer Joseph DeAngelo, who is accused of at least 13 murders and dozens of rapes and burglaries in California in the 1970s and 1980s.

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