Archive for the ‘DNA’ Category

This is an amazing story about how the FBI and other law enforcement agencies spent months looking for a white rape-murder suspect in Baton Rouge, Louisiana until DNA evidence conclusively established that the killer had black ancestry. The real killer was found months later. Five women were raped and killed during the wild goose chase for the imaginary white suspect. Discredited folk wisdom that inter-racial rape is rare and that most serial killers are white undoubtedly contributed to this fiasco.

One disturbing example of willful blindness emerged in the article. The original nationwide DNA testing and database system used by law enforcement deliberately did not track ethnic information, even though such information is obviously very useful for law enforcement to clear suspects and also to keep their focus on whoever the real offender is. After years of being told that “race is a social construct,” even police and administrators forgot something most people learn in ninth grade biology:  that our skin color, appearance, and ancestry all correlates strongly with identifiable genetic markers. The article reports:

Tony Frudakis first heard about the Baton Rouge serial killer just like everyone else outside of Louisiana — on cable news. As months went by, the body count climbed, Frudakis followed the case, thinking “why on earth can’t they catch this guy?”

Several years earlier, Frudakis’ father was shot when he confronted a would-be car thief in the driveway of his Long Beach, California, home. The thief escaped but dropped his driver’s license at the scene and was apprehended quickly. The serial killer had also left behind his identification in his DNA but, unlike a driver’s license, his genetic ID revealed nothing about his physical characteristics — or at least it revealed nothing the police could use.

The DNA forensic products available at the time could only be used to match DNA specimens in the CODIS, or Combined DNA Index System, database which contains about 5 million DNA profiles. If investigators have a crime scene sample but no suspect, they run it against those in the database to see if it matches a sample already on file.

But while CODIS is good at linking the criminals who are already catalogued from other crimes, the system is useless in identifying physical characteristics. It says nothing about race. It has been specifically set up to reveal no racial information whatsoever, in part so that the test would be consistently accurate irrespective of race.

But non-scientific considerations also factored into how the system was established. When the national DNA Advisory Board selected the gene markers, or DNA sequences which have a known location on a chromosome, for CODIS, they deliberately chose not to include markers associated with ancestral geographic origins to avoid any political maelstrom.

We’ve overcompensated, moving from a time when law enforcement often employed crude stereotypes against minorities to one where verifiable negative facts about minorities are ignored and suppressed, even when they will aid in the discovery of active serial killers.  Oh well, as the SDS, Lenin, and the other authors of political correctness said so often:  “you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.”

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