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More than 400 DNA hits helped solve cases in 2011

Release date: 4/12/2012

DNA database grows to nearly 220,000 samples with inclusion of certain arrestees 

Raleigh: DNA work by the State Crime Laboratory resulted in 409 hits to the DNA database in 2011, matches that helped local law enforcement solve murders, rapes and other crimes across the state.  During the same time period, the lab used DNA to help eliminate 149 individuals as suspects.
 
“DNA is an amazing tool that can pinpoint criminals and exonerate the innocent,” Cooper said. “Steady work by DNA experts at our State Crime Lab is making North Carolina safer and furthering the cause of justice.”
 
The Crime Lab’s DNA work was recently found to meet high national standards by an independent, external audit conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI Quality Assurance Standards review validated the lab’s DNA procedures and methodology. 
 
The State Crime Lab maintains the state’s DNA database and provides law enforcement with analysis of evidence that may contain DNA. At the end of 2011, the North Carolina DNA database contained 219,329 profiles and had helped to solve more than 2,100 cases since its inception in 1994. The State Crime Lab had more hits to the DNA database in 2011 than in the first 11 years of the DNA program combined and was only a few hits shy of beating 2010’s record-setting 420 hits.
 
The database includes profiles from all convicted felons and since February 1, 2011 also includes profiles from certain arrestees under a new state law backed by Cooper. The lab obtained hits to 24 arrestee DNA profiles in 2011.
 
So far in 2012, the lab has obtained 54 hits to the DNA database including nine hits to arrestee profiles.
 
“Investigators rely more and more on rock solid DNA evidence to solve crimes,” said SBI Director Greg McLeod. “The State Crime Lab is using technology to make DNA analysis available to law enforcement across North Carolina.”
 
Experts at the State Crime Lab compare DNA evidence recovered from crime scenes to DNA profiles of suspects developed by investigators. They can also use the DNA evidence to search for a hit, or match, to a profile in the database. A hit can help law enforcement solve a case with no known suspects and can clear wrongly accused suspects. 
 
“Scientists at the State Crime Lab use their knowledge and expertise to help crack complex cases that might otherwise go unsolved,” said Crime Lab Director Judge Joseph R. John, Sr.
 
North Carolina’s DNA database is part of a national database called CODIS (Combined DNA Index System), which is overseen by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Convicted offenders’ DNA samples are collected at local jails and state prisons for analysis and inclusion in the state and national DNA databases.  Law enforcement officers take DNA samples from arrestees by cheek cell collector and the samples are then analyzed and uploaded to the databases.
 
Under the new state law allowing DNA collection from certain arrestees, an arrestee’s sample may be eligible for removal if he or she isn’t convicted or the case is dismissed. More than 20 other states and the federal government have also passed laws that allow the collection of DNA samples from arrestees, and courts have upheld the practice as constitutional.
 
The State Crime Lab, including the Forensic Biology Section that performs DNA analysis, is working toward accreditation under stringent ISO17025 standards. That will allow the lab to be accredited by two outside organizations, making it one of the first in the U.S. to have dual ISO accreditation.
 
“It’s critical that our lab meet the highest standards so that the criminal justice system continues to have access to accurate, trustworthy scientific analysis,” Cooper said.



Media contact:  Noelle Talley (919) 716-6413