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Technology helping solve cold cases

Detectives across the country are dedicating time to cold cases and getting results.

Advances in forensic technology is extracting DNA from evidence never thought possible, DNA detectives believe will put more killers behind bars.

Since the late 1980’s, police used DNA to solve crimes, but how it could be used was extremely limited.

“We couldn’t process a specific item of evidence because it hadn’t been invented yet,” said Indio Detective Jeremy Hellawell. But, that’s changed.

“We have the ability today, to collect and get a profile of a DNA sample merely by breathing on something back then it would take a sample the size of a quarter and use up that sample,” said Hellawell.

That’s why detectives all over the country reopen cold cases and recheck evidence preserved from the crime scene.

“Things that we were, that we’ve been stalemated on we can test again,” said Riverside County Sheriff Investigator Lester Harvey.

The dedicated cold case unit for the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department has another tool at it’s disposal. Since 2008, the National Institute of Justice awarded nearly $1.5 million to test DNA evidence in unsolved homicides.

“It’s like night and day. It’s been a great asset as far how science has progressed to help us with the case that we are working on,” said Harvey.

So far the grant helped solve four cases, nationwide 1,500 and nearly 4,000 cases were entered into CODIS, the national DNA database, where a hit could happen anytime.

“It was just a matter of us trying to keep up with the trends of science,” said Harvey.

However, not every piece of evidence can be tested, because of time and cost forcing detectives to pick and choose.

“Maybe it will give us that much more and link us just a little bit more to the direction that we need to go in,” said Harvey.

“It’s my opinion there is going to be no unsolved crimes because of the technology and the capabilities that we are having as time goes on,” said Hellawell.

Keep in mind testing for DNA doesn’t happen over night, depending on the type of sample: blood, hair, or even a finger print, it could take several months for results.

KESQ News Team


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