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Familial DNA Search Weighed in New York

Officials in New York are weighing whether to use a familial DNA search to get a lead in the case of a runner who was strangled and killed, the Associated Press reports.

Police have a DNA profile of the suspected killer, but no matches have come up in the system. To expand their net, prosecutors and police are asking to be able to search for people in the database who might be related to their suspect.

"Our only goal in life is to find out who did this to our daughter," the victim's mother, Cathy Vetrano, tells the AP. "So if there's any method available to do that, we want it done."

Familial searches have been conducted in other jurisdictions, the AP notes, and have helped lead to high profile arrests, such as of Lonnie Franklin, Jr. in the Grim Sleeper serial killer case after a search turned up a familial match to his son who had been arrested on weapons charges.

Ten states have conducted familial DNA searches, but Maryland and Washington, DC, prohibit them.

Critics say that familial DNA searches violate civil liberties and exposes law-aiding citizens to scrutiny based only on their familial ties. "A policy that implicates New Yorkers in a criminal investigation solely because they are related to someone with DNA in the state's databank is a miscarriage of justice," Donna Lieberman, the New York Civil Liberties Union's executive director, tells the AP.

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