Apr 20th, 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM


The Utilization of Familial DNA Searching in Criminal Cases: Finding Close Relatives of the Perpetrator


Familial DNA searching is an effective but controversial new forensic tool. It allows law enforcement to use criminal databases to search for relatives of someone who left an unidentified DNA profile at a crime scene. When a complete DNA match can not be found, this technique is used to find imperfect DNA matches to people who may be close relatives of the perpetrator such as a parent, sibling, or child. This method can be effective because fortysix percent of prison inmates have a least one relative who has been in prison1. However, not all crime labs are using this method for solving cold cases, and serious civil rights questions have been raised about it. This report assesses the use of this practice throughout the fifty states, as well as its application in international labs, and includes a survey of the software used by responding agencies.

1. Schmid, Randolph E., AP Science Writer. “Researchers suggest familial DNA searching.” 2008 July 8