Almost six years ago now, it was confirmed that the remains identified under a car park in Leicester were those of Richard III. One of the principal components of this identification was that the remains shared the mtDNA of Michael Ibsen, a maternal line relative traced by John Ashdown-Hill, as was Wendy Duldig by the University of Leicester. The technology of DNA analysis had been developed there by Sir Alec Jeffreys and was used in this case.
The first significant development pertains to a murder that actually took place in Nottinghamshire two years before Pitchfork’s offences. Despite being featured on Crimewatch in 1984, Colette Aram’s killer, Paul Hutchinson, was not identified until 2008 when his 20 year-old son was arrested for a motoring offence and a DNA sample compared with one from the field where she was found.
However, the large-scale interest in genealogy has led to a potentially wide scale breakthrough. In 2020, an extensive and varied crime spree that began in 1973 was ended when Joseph James de Angelo, known as the Golden State Killer among other names, pleaded guilty to several counts of murder and abduction, having been traced after several distant relatives contributed DNA samples to commercial databases and these were analysed. It could now reasonably be said that any modern criminal can be traced by variations on the technology that identified a famous crime victim.