Va. Prosecutor: Familial DNA Testing Could Have Caught Rapist | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Va. Prosecutor: Familial DNA Testing Could Have Caught Rapist

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Prince William County Commonwealth's attorney Paul Ebert says to him, the East Coast Rapist could have attacked any woman at any time, an idea that for Ebert makes the case only comparable to the DC Sniper investigation.

"It was music to my ears to hear that he had been arrested," he says.

But Ebert says Friday's arrest of 39-year-old Aaron Thomas, in New Haven, Conn., could have come years ago, had authorities in Connecticut had access to familial DNA searches.

The practice allows law enforcement to take unidentified DNA samples, and find close matches, indicating a familial relationship.

"We know that one of his family members had been arrested well prior to these recent crimes," Ebert says of Thomas.

The technology for such searches is readily available, but most states don't allow familial DNA testing because of privacy concerns.

Partly because of the unsolved East Coast Rapist cases, Virginia's Department of Forensic Science started testing the software needed to perform familial DNA searches in January.

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