Virginia forensic investigators will now be able to take advantage of a new DNA technology that investigators have said would have helped them solve the East Coast Rapist case sooner.
Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Monday that the Department of Forensic Science has the capability to conduct familial DNA searches in criminal investigations.
In cases where there is no known suspect, investigators can match DNA against databases to identify close relatives, and potentially lead to a suspect.
Paul Ebert, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Prince William County, highlighted the technology last month. Ebert told NBC Washington's Julie Carey that familial DNA could helped them catch Aaron Thomas – the man accused of being the East Coast Rapist -- sooner, had the technology been available.
"[Thomas] had a close family member who was arrested and whose DNA was in a database. Had that program been available, he would have been identified much earlier," Ebert said.
The use of familial DNA is barred in most states because of privacy concerns. Virginia is now the third state to utilize the technology, following California and Colorado.