IN officials hope DNA tests during felony arrests will solve cold cases

Updated: Jan. 30, 2018 at 7:52 PM EST
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Clark County Jail officials say it's easy and has just become part of their process. (Source:...
Clark County Jail officials say it's easy and has just become part of their process. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (WAVE) - A new Indiana law requires the testing of DNA collected from people arrested on felony charges. That law went into effect January 1.

"I think it could legitimately solve a number of cold cases," Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull said.

Now, 30 days in, police say it's become just another part of the inmate booking routine.

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Inside the Clark County Jail, inmates are brought in and booked regularly.

"We'll pat the inmate down, take their picture and then take the DNA swab if they're charged with a felony in the state of Indiana," Lt. Col. Scottie Maples with the Clark County Sheriff's Office said. "It's been fairly smooth."

Deputies at the jail get plenty of practice with each felony arrest coming in, often five to 10 each day.

"One would think it was maybe a long procedure when you hear the words DNA. But actually it's very quick, we can do it in around 30 seconds," Maples said.

Those tests are sent off each week to the Indiana State Crime Labs. They're then saved and matched against DNA samples in unsolved cases. It's a new policy for Hoosiers but it has already solved crimes in other states.

"I think that was part of the reason that this got support in the state of Indiana, is that it does have a proven track record," Mull said.

He has seen first-hand results of the DNA system bringing justice for victims long after the crime.

"The offender left some DNA at the scene that was recovered and when he was later arrested for another crime, his DNA was recovered, entered into a database and matched," Mull explained. "I was able to get a conviction of a defendant for that rape based on the DNA being matched."

With each felony arrest, the number of possible matches to DNA in cold cases rises. That can make a real difference, Mull said, in getting justice for victims and keeping communities safe.

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"I think the end result is going to be that we're going to be able to take some dangerous and violent predators off the streets because of this law," Mull said.

Those affected by the law can request a removal from the DNA database after one year, but only with a court order showing the felony convictions were reversed, dismissed or converted to misdemeanors.

To find more information about that and the testing procedures on the Indiana State Police website, just click or tap here.

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