An 80-Year-Old Man's ​Website Collected 1 Million DNA Profiles. Now Police Have Used It to Solve 15 Murders and Other Crimes

On Halloween night in 1996, a masked man committed an especially heinous sexual assault in California. The trail went cold.

But last month, they uploaded DNA from the scene to a genealogy website called GEDMatch, run by a retired Florida businessman and a transportation engineer in Texas.

Within hours, reports Heather Murphy of The New York Times, they had a suspect in the 22-year-old case, marking the 15th time authorities have used GEDMatch to make arrests in brutal crimes, including rape and murder.

Most famously, it’s how police made an arrest in the Golden State Killer case–13 murders, 50 rapes and other crimes from the 1970s and 1980s.

The founder of GEDMatch, Curtis Rogers, 80, and his partner, John Olson, 67, say members have voluntarily uploaded more than 1 million DNA samples, that they get from other sites like 23andme. That’s enough so that any American of North European descent has a 60 percent chance of being identified on the site.

It’s grown quickly, with no advertising, and now they’re facing ethical questions like whether users’ privacy rights outweigh the need to find suspects in these cold cases.

So far, Rogers, who runs the site mostly from a battered Toshiba laptop according to the Times, and charges nowhere near what he thinks he could make because he simply believes in helping people, has come down on the side of law enforcement.

But the site, and its accidental mission are a reminder: there’s more than one way for even a very small business to achieve success and leave a lasting impression.

Here’s what else I’m reading today:

Rest in peace, Paul Allen

The co-founder of Microsoft, Seattle sports team owner, and one of the biggest Seattle real estate developers, died yesterday of cancer at age 65. “I am heartbroken by the passing of one of my oldest and dearest friends,” Bill Gates said, adding, “Personal computing would not have existed without him.” (Christine Wang, CNBC)

National Boss’s Day

You should probably discourage your employees from celebrating this fauxliday, but here are some good inspirational stories of business leadership, in case they insist. (Leigh Buchanan, Inc.com)

“Hello, death!”

Coca-Cola tried to mix English and Māori on a vending machine in New Zealand. Unfortunately, their imperfect understanding of the linguistics led them to use a phrase that basically means, “Hello, death!” instead of the intended, “Hello, mate!” (Eleanor Ainge Roy, The Guardian)

The head of LinkedIn says learn these skills

No, they’re not coding skills. Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn’s CEO, says written communication, oral communication, team-building, and leadership skills are the ones employers want most. (Simone Stolzoff, Quartz)

The 99-cent site

How’s this for a tenuous value proposition? Pay 99 cents to this website, and  you get to see the name of all the other people who paid 99 cents. And the next person who pay will get to see all them, plus you too. As of a few days ago, 43 people had paid up. I’ll tell you for free whose name isn’t on it: me. (Sean Wolfe, Business Insider)

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