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SCIENCE & TEAMWORK MAKE POWERFUL TOOL AGAINST CRIMINALS
August 12, 2009
(SEATTLE, WA) -- Scientists at the Washington State Patrol’s crime laboratory are celebrating the 1000th hit by the agency’s statewide DNA tracking system.
The milestone match came in a high-profile home invasion attack in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood that left one woman dead and another seriously injured.
DNA from the South Park crime scene did not match any names in the state’s convicted offender database, but it was matched to DNA from an unsolved burglary in Auburn.
“That triggered an amazing series of dominoes leading to the suspect’s arrest,” said WSP Chief John R. Batiste in a statement.
“Auburn Police had surveillance video from their burglary which was then given the widest possible distribution. Pierce County detectives recognized the subject and immediately provided his name to detectives in Seattle.”
Most DNA hits are matches to the state convicted offender database made up of profiles from people convicted of certain crimes. The DNA from a crime scene is entered and, if a matching profile is in the database the system, there is a response within a few seconds.
In this case, pairing up two unsolved crimes was sufficient to trigger an identification and quick arrest in a brutal attack and murder.
"We are grateful for the extraordinary work that occurs everyday at the State Patrol's Crime Lab. This was a horrendous crime, and if not for the work of the dedicated employees, might have gone unsolved. We know firsthand the importance of their work," said Seattle Police Department Interim Chief John Diaz.
Washington’s first DNA hit, in May of 2001, was a rape case from the Arizona Department of Public Safety that matched to a DNA sample from a convicted offender in Washington.
Since that first hit, the number of DNA matches has steadily climbed. From 2001 through July of 2009, this extremely powerful investigation tool has aided investigations in 121 homicides, 283 sexual crimes, 123 robberies, and 361 burglaries and thefts.
As of July, the Washington State Patrol’s DNA database contained approximately 157,000 convicted offender profiles and about 2,500 forensic evidence samples.
The FBI’s National DNA database holds nearly seven million convicted offender samples and over 272,000 crime scene profiles.
“DNA is a powerful tool, which we use to both convict the guilty and clear the innocent,” Batiste said. “It was made even more effective when the state legislature recently broadened the number of crimes for which offenders must provide DNA samples to our lab.”
In Washington State, anyone convicted of a felony or who is required to register as a sex or kidnapping offender must provide a DNA sample for entry into the DNA database.
Eight misdemeanors are also covered by state law and require submission of a DNA sample. The WSP Crime Laboratory in Seattle receives approximately 1,500 samples per month for entry into the database.