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'Grim Sleeper' case raises privacy concerns over use of DNA

'Grim Sleeper' serial killer case was broken when authorities used DNA taken from the suspect's family members. Is it a breakthrough in police science or an invasion of privacy?

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, California Attorney General Jerry Brown, and LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck announce the arrest of Lonnie David Franklin Jr. on suspicion of carrying out the 'Grim Sleeper' serial killings.

Newscom

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To break the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer case in California, authorities used a controversial new law that allowed them to take DNA from the suspect's family members. The evidence led to the arrest of a man suspected of murdering at least 10 women in Los Angeles over 25 years.

Is it a breakthrough in police science? Or does it have the potential for privacy invasion? Such questions are now being debated by law enforcement officials and legal scholars.

Lonnie David Franklin Jr. was arrested July 7 on multiple murder counts after the state DNA lab uncovered a link between murder scene material and Mr. Franklin’s son, Christopher.

Last year, Christopher was convicted of a felony weapons charge and his DNA was collected and sent to the state DNA data bank. Initial searches to find the “Grim Sleeper” suspect under the new program that same month failed to find a relative in the database. A second search this spring was successful.

At a press conference Thursday, the mayor, police commission president, Los Angeles County sheriff, victims’ family members, and detectives all lauded the new procedure.

'This will change the face of policing'

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