There are many examples of how expanding the DNA database to include those arrested for felony offenses and/or those convicted of all crimes could catch repeat offenders sooner.
Chester Turner was arrested 21 times over the period of 15 years without ever being convicted of a crime that would allow his DNA profile to be uploaded into the DNA database. When he was finally convicted of rape and his DNA profile was uploaded into CODIS, it matched to the crime scene DNA found on 12 raped and murdered women. The first of these women was murdered less than two months after his first felony arrest. Her name was Diane Johnson. He went on to murder Annette Ernest, Anita Fishman, Regina Washington, Debra Williams, Mary Edwards, Andrea Triplett, Desarae Jones, Natalie Price, Mildred Beasley, Paula Vance and Brenda Bries. Had Turner’s DNA been taken upon his first felony arrest, crime scene evidence from Diane Johnson could have matched Turner’s CODIS profile and 11 women might have been saved. To compound this tragedy, a man name David Jones was wrongfully convicted and spent 11 years in prison. One cheek swab could have saved 11 lives and kept an innocent man from spending 11 years in prison. And recently Turner was linked to three more murders, bringing the lives that could have been spared to 14.
Christopher Ted Dye raped three Austin women in their homes before the police first arrested him in 1993 for burglarizing a house. Unaware they had apprehended a serial rapist, authorities released the 34-year-old former auto mechanic on bail.
Over the next six months, Dye raped four more women before being arrested a second time for burglarizing an apartment. He served two months in jail. For two more years, as the police searched for the Mopac rapist, nicknamed that because the attacks occurred near the expressway, Dye raped seven more women before finally being caught.
When Austin Police Chief Stan Knee began championing DNA testing at the time of arrest, he had to look no further than Dye, the city’s most notorious serial rapist. “He’s the perfect example of how we could have saved 11 (rape) victims.” Testing Dye upon his first burglary arrest could have led to a DNA match from his first three rapes.
In 2005 a sexual assault was committed. There was a DNA profile from the crime, but no CODIS match. In July 2009 Jesse Matthew was arrested for felony grand larceny. The law did not allow his DNA to be taken. In October of 2009 college student Morgan Harrington goes missing. Her body was discovered three months later and there was DNA evidence, but no match in CODIS. In 2010 Jesse Matthew was convicted for misdemeanor criminal trespass, but the law did not allow his DNA to be taken. In September 2014 college student Hannah Graham was reported missing and her body was found in October. There was a forensic DNA link between the perpetrator in Hannah Graham’s case to that of Morgan Harrington.
Taking DNA at the time of felony arrest could have identified Jesse Matthew as the perpetrator of the 2005 sexual assault at the time of his July 2009 arrest. Taking DNA at the time of misdemeanor conviction would have identified him as the assailant in 2010. Not only would Matthew have been identified five years sooner for the 2005 sexual assault, Morgan Harrington and Hannah Graham would still be alive.
The Chicago Study
In 2005, the City of Chicago demonstrated the prevalence of repeat crime and the importance of arrestee testing. By taking a closer look at the criminal history of eight convicted felons, the Chicago Study uncovered startling results – 60 violent crimes could have been prevented if only DNA had been collected for a prior felony arrest. In each case, the offender had committed previously undetected violent crimes that investigators could have identified immediately through a DNA match.
Unfortunately, DNA was not required at arrest. The eight offenders in Chicago accumulated a total of 21 felony arrests before law enforcement officials were finally able to convict them of violent crimes.
With DNA arrestee testing, the following crimes could have been prevented:
- 22 murders – victims ranging from 24 to 44 years of age
- 30 rapes – victims ranging from 15 to 65 years of age
- Attempted rapes
- Aggravated kidnapping
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