The Atlantic

How a Tiny Website Became the Police's Go-To Genealogy Database

“I never expected anything like this.”
Source: Fred Greaves / Reuters

Ever since investigators revealed that a genealogy website led police to arrest a man as California’s notorious Golden State Killer, interest in using genealogy to solve crimes has exploded. DNA from more than 100 crime scenes has been uploaded to the same genealogy site. A second man, linked to a double murder in Washington state, has been arrested. This is likely only the beginning.

At the center of all this is GEDmatch—a free genealogy website run by just two men who live 1,000 miles apart, an engineer in his 60s who lives in Texas and a 79-year-old retired businessman turned professional guardian in Florida. The site is—or was—a side project for them.

“I never expected anything like this,” says Curtis Rogers, who started GEDmatch along with John Olson. Rogers, who lives in Florida, had no idea investigators were using GEDmatch to find criminals until he saw

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic4 min read
The Window for Brexit May Already Have Closed
Parliament is delaying Johnson’s plan—and generational replacement has undercut its support.
The Atlantic4 min readPolitics
The U.S. Is Abandoning Its Interests in Brexit
Gordon Sondland is a busy man. He recently testified to Congress about his role in President Donald Trump’s attempt to extort campaign dirt from the government of Ukraine. That testimony follows from Sondland’s previous deft maneuvering to insert him
The Atlantic8 min read
It Isn’t About Your Love Language; It’s About Your Partner’s
A framework meant to help people become more attuned to their partners now gets treated like a personality test.