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Familial Searches Weighed in New York

There currently are no leads in the case of the young woman who was sexually assaulted and strangled while going for a run in Queens, but police investigators and the victim's father hope that will change if they can conduct a familial DNA search, the New York Times reports. They say such testing could uncover a relative of the perpetrator in the DNA database, as other searches have come up empty.

Such testing has been used in states other than New York, including in California where it was used to identify the Grim Sleeper based upon a match to his son. Some eight states allow such searches, but it has been banned in other locations, including Maryland and Washington, DC.

Critics of the approach say that this was not the intended use of DNA databases, that such searches disproportionately affect minorities, and that it targets people just because they are related to people who've committed a crime.

The 14-member New York State Commission on Forensic Science and the seven-member DNA subcommittee is to meet in February, the Times notes, to decide on whether or not to allow familial DNA searches. If they so allow it, there will then be a 45-day period for public comment.