A Genealogy Site DNA Test Just Brought Down Another Serial Rapist

Photo: Courtesy of Sacramento Police Department.
Genealogy site GEDmatch is to thank for bringing another serial rapist to justice 27 years after his first assault. California authorities have arrested Roy Charles Waller and charged him with 12 counts of forcible sexual assault after his DNA connected him with the series of horrific assaults spanning over 15 years across six counties in Northern California which resulted in the title “NorCal Rapist.”
Detective Avis Beery, a key member of the investigation for over 12 years, described the NorCal Rapist’s methodology to the Washington Post, detailing a pattern of breaking into women’s homes at night, then stealing from their homes, or occasionally kidnapping them and forcing them to take out cash at an ATM. The first attack occurred in 1991. Other than the methodology, the only thing connecting the cases were DNA samples obtained from GEDmatch.
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Waller was arrested on Thursday in Berkeley, CA. He has worked at the University of California’s environment, health, and safety office for nearly 25 years. Though none of the suspected rapes linked to Waller occurred in the county where the university is located, the school has released a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle saying that they are having campus police review all of the sexual assault cases to determine if there are others that are possibly connected.
The arrest bears a resemblance to the recent apprehension of Joseph James DeAngelo, known only as the Golden State Killer up until April when his DNA was matched after police searched the GEDmatch for familial DNA. This is the second notorious, long-standing case that has been solved by finding a close DNA match and working backward to find the suspect. The practice is gaining popularity around the country amid questions of whether it is an invasion of privacy for law enforcement to use government-run DNA database results when it is DNA submitted by a relative rather than the suspect themselves. Authorities have not clarified whether they used a familial match to discover Waller or whether he had submitted DNA himself to GEDmatch in the past.
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