But just how likely is it that any given criminal will have relatives in a DNA-based ancestry database? How powerful is the long-range familial search technique? For their report today in Science, researchers at another genealogy service called MyHeritage in Or Yehuda, Israel, along with collaborators at Columbia University in New York, set out to answer these questions.
Their conclusion: If just 2 percent of a population gives DNA to an ancestry service, nearly 99 percent of that population will find a relative, third cousin or closer, in that service’s database. So in the near future, a person who commits a violent crime is likely to have a relative in one of these consumer databases, says Yaniv Erlich, chief technology officer at MyHeritage and an author of today’s report.