Legislation has passed in the state Senate that would allow New York to use familial DNA, a test that Karina Vetrano’s parents were pushing for in their effort to help solve her brutal rape and murder.
Familial DNA searching is a technique that compares DNA found at a crime scene, for example, to DNA already in the offender databank, providing near matches that could lead authorities to family members of the person who left the DNA sample.
It is unknown if familial DNA played a part in catching the suspect who is charged with killing Vetrano, state State Sen. Joseph Addabbo, Jr. said. The test is only legal in a handful of states, and New York is not one of them.
The Queens Democrat co-sponsored the bill with Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato, a member of the DNA Subcommittee of the New York State Commission on Forensic Science.
“I continue to believe that this type of search is an important resource in violent criminal investigations where the trail seems to be getting colder and colder,” Addabbo said.
“It took six long and painful months for the investigators to identify and arrest a suspect in Karina’s case. Against great odds, our law enforcement agencies did a tremendous job in connecting the dots between the suspect’s earlier suspicious behavior, a 911 call, and the murder.”
“We know that familial DNA has been used in roughly 10 other states for almost 10 years, with success in finding felons,” he added.
The DNA Subcommittee plans to create a report by the end of the year recommending best practices for the use of familial DNA searching.
There will be a public hearing on the issue on Friday. The senator said he will be testifying.
“While there are legitimate questions regarding privacy rights and other issues surrounding the practice, I believe we can develop a policy that would address these concerns while giving our law enforcement community a powerful new tool to bring violent felons to justice,” Addabbo said.