In episode five of the Case Studies season, Just Science sat down with Rockne Harmon, forensic consultant and former senior deputy district attorney for Alameda County in California, to talk about familial DNA searching and the case of the Grim Sleeper Serial Killer.
From the mid 80s to 2007, Lonnie David Franklin Jr, otherwise known as the Grim Sleeper, was responsible for at least 10 murders in California. Although he started killing in the 1980s, large gaps of time between murders and underutilized DNA evidence left at the crime scenes made it exceptionally difficult to find a suspect.
Franklin was arrested in 2010 after investigators used familial DNA searching to connect DNA recovered at multiple crime scenes to one of Franklin’s relatives. Rockne Harmon was instrumental in convincing the California Department of Justice to implement familial DNA searching in cold cases, ultimately leading to the arrest of the Grim Sleeper and many other offenders. Listen along as he discusses familial DNA searching and the case of the Grim Sleeper in this episode of Just Science.
This episode of Just Science is funded by the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence [Award 2016-MU-BX-K110].
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- Science Article: Finding Criminals through DNA of Their Relatives
- Forensic Magazine Article: Going Beyond CODIS: The Illusion of Rape-Kit Testing as Panacea