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Tuesday
Feb262013

Supreme Court Appears Divided on Major DNA Case

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- It’s not very often a Supreme Court justice says something like this at arguments: “I think this is perhaps the most important criminal procedure case that this court has heard in decades.”

But that was Justice Samuel Alito Tuesday, talking about Maryland v. King, a case concerning a Maryland law that allows officials -- without a warrant -- to take the DNA of someone who has been arrested but not convicted of a serious crime. The federal government and 28 other states have similar laws.

Alonzo Jay King Jr. is challenging the law. In 2009 he was arrested for assault. But when -- pursuant to the Maryland DNA Collection Act -- officials took his DNA, they were able to eventually produce a match with a previously unsolved rape case from 2003. King argued that the DNA draw violated his constitutional rights, but he lost and was sentenced to life in prison for the 2003 case. In April, an appeals court ruled in favor of King. The court said that King’s rights to be free from unreasonable warrantless searches had been violated.

On Tuesday, lawyers for the State of Maryland and the Department of Justice asked the Supreme Court to rule in favor of so-called Arrestee DNA laws.

During extremely animated arguments the justices seemed divided on some key issues.

Alito teed up a central question: "So this is what is at stake: Lots of murders, lots of rapes that can be solved using this new technology that involves a very minimal intrusion on personal privacy. But why isn’t this the fingerprinting of the 21st century?”

Kannon K. Shanmugam, King’s lawyer, argued emphatically that the taking of DNA is distinguishable from the taking of fingerprints because DNA contains far more information, the search is physically intrusive, and law enforcement’s primary purpose to take the DNA is not for identification purposes.

On the question of the law’s purpose, Shanmugam stressed the fact that the government was using the DNA to solve cold cases. He said the intrusive swab of his client’s cheek constituted a search.

“Maryland searched my client without a warrant in order to investigate crimes for which there is no suspicion,” Shanmugam argued. “It is settled law that warrantless, suspicionless searches are presumptively unconstitutional.”

Justice Elena Kagan posed critical questions regarding the law. She asked Katherine Winfree, the chief deputy attorney general of Maryland, that if the purpose of the law is not so much for identification, but to solve cold cases, “then it’s just like searching your house, to see what’s in your house that could help solve cold cases.” A search of the home – unless there is an emergency – requires a warrant.

“Just because you’ve been arrested, doesn’t mean that you lose the privacy expectations and things you have that aren’t related to the offense that you’ve been arrested for, ” Kagan said.

Winfree responded that there was a “very real distinction” between the police "generally rummaging in your home” and “swabbing the inside of an arrestee’s cheek to determine his DNA profile.” She said that the DNA numbers revealed “tell us nothing about that individual.”

The United States government favors the law, and argues that arrestees lose some of their privacy by virtue of the fact they’ve been arrested: “Arrestees are in a unique category, they are on the gateway into the criminal justice system. They are no longer like free citizens who are wandering around on the streets retaining full impact Fourth Amendment rights.” Deputy Solicitor General Michael R. Dreeben noted that when someone is taken into jail he is subject to a visual strip search. If he’s admitted into the prison population, he is subject to a TB test and a thorough medical screening.

Dreeben also said that the government’s analysis of the DNA is restricted and that it is not like going into a house and exposing “a substantial number of highly private things." He said it is much more like taking a fingerprint.

The fingerprint comparison brought up another concern of the justices. A fingerprint analysis is almost immediate while DNA can take days or sometimes weeks to analyze depending upon the available technology and backlog. How can something that can take days to acquire have a primary purpose for identification?

Dreeban said that soon this distinction won’t matter: “The future is very close to where there will be 'rapid DNA analyzers' that are devices that can analyze and produce the identification material in the DNA within 90 minutes.”

Winfree followed up on the point. She said that “rapid DNA” is developing so quickly that the FBI estimates that within about two years it will be more of a reality.

“This is the fingerprinting of the 21st century, but it’s better,” she said, echoing Justice Alito.

But Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia noted that if, at the end of the day, the case revolves around the primary purpose of the law, and if that is for identification purposes, then today, DNA is not readily available for that purpose.

"How can I base a decision today on what you tell me is going to happen in two years? You say in two years we will have this 'rapid DNA' available, but we don’t now. Don’t I have to base a decision on what we have today?”

And Scalia said: “If we believe that the purpose of it has much to do with whether it’s legitimate or not, you can’t demonstrate that the purpose is immediate identification of the people coming into custody.”

“The purpose now,” he continued, is “to catch the bad guys, which is a good thing. But you know, the Fourth Amendment sometimes stands in the way.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb072013

Supreme Court to Hear Major DNA Case

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Supreme Court will revisit the crossroad of privacy and evolving science later this month when it considers whether officials can take the DNA -- without a warrant -- of someone who has been arrested but not convicted of a crime.

While all states require DNA from individuals convicted of a felony, the federal government and 28 states also require DNA collection and analysis from at least some arrestees.

Alonzo Jay King Jr., claims his constitutional rights were violated when he was arrested in 2009 for assault.  At the time of his arrest, pursuant to Maryland's DNA Collection Act, officials swabbed his cheek and collected his DNA without a warrant.

His 2009 sample was later matched in a state database to DNA from a 2003 rape case.  It was a cold case involving a 53-year-old female victim identified as "Vonette W." in Maryland.  Based on the new evidence, King was eventually charged with the 2003 rape and robbery. He is currently serving a life sentence.

Lawyers for King appealed the decision arguing that taking the warrantless DNA from someone who has been arrested but not convicted of a serious crime violates the Fourth Amendment's ban on unreasonable search and seizure. The Court of Appeals of Maryland ruled in King's favor.

The court rejected an analogy that taking the DNA was no more invasive than taking a fingerprint.

"Although the Maryland DNA Collection Act restricts the DNA profile to identifying information only, we can not turn a blind eye to the vast genetic treasure map that remains in the DNA sample retained by the State," the court's majority said.

Maryland's Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler is asking the Supreme Court to step in and reverse the lower court decision.

In court papers filed with the Supreme Court, the two sides address the balance between an individual's privacy and the needs of law enforcement.

King's lawyers say that even though their client has diminished privacy as someone who had been arrested for a serious crime, the government has no right to forgo ordinary rules requiring a warrant and probable cause before forcing him to submit to a search for investigative purposes involving a physical intrusion into the body.

"The collection of an individual's DNA raises profound privacy concerns," writes King's lawyer, Kannon K. Shanmugam.  "Our DNA is our blueprint: an individual's DNA contains not only deeply personal information about the subject's medical history and genetic conditions, but also information that can be used to make predictions about a host of physical and behavioral characteristics, ranging from a subject's age, ethnicity, and intelligence to the subject's propensity for violence and addiction."

Shanmugam cautions the court about the impact of new technologies and individual privacy and says the court needs to draw the line at allowing officials to conduct warrantless DNA tests before arrestees have even been convicted of a crime.

But Gansler defends the law.  He references the cold case that was solved because of the law.

"He [King] did not leave behind his photograph, his fingerprints or his name, but he did leave his identity nonetheless, in the form of a string of numbers engraved upon every cell," he says.

Gansler says the collection of DNA is subject to strict regulations and that the state must destroy a DNA sample and expunge all related DNA records if no conviction arises from the related charges or the conviction is reversed.

The federal government agrees and has filed a brief on behalf of Maryland arguing that the "touchstone of the Fourth Amendment is reasonableness" and that the law properly balances a person's privacy interest against a legitimate government interest.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case on Feb. 26.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec272012

Newtown Shooter's DNA to Be Studied by Geneticists

Obtained by ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Geneticists have been asked to study the DNA of Adam Lanza, the Connecticut man whose shooting rampage killed 27 people, including an entire first grade class.

The study, which experts believe may be the first of its kind, is expected to be looking for abnormalities or mutations in Lanza's DNA.

Connecticut Medical Examiner H. Wayne Carver has reached out to University of Connecticut's geneticists to conduct the study.

University of Connecticut spokesperson Tom Green says Carver "has asked for help from our department of genetics" and they are "willing to give any assistance they can."

Green said he could not provide details on the project, but said it has not begun and they are "standing by waiting to assist in any way we can."

Lanza, 20, carried out the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., just days before Christmas.  His motives for the slaughter remain a mystery.

Geneticists not directly involved in the study said they are likely looking at Lanza's DNA to detect a mutation or abnormality that could increase the risk of aggressive or violent behavior.  They could analyze Lanza's entire genome in great detail and try to find unexpected mutations.

This seems to be the first time a study of this nature has been conducted, but it raises concerns in some geneticists and others in the field that there could be a stigma attached to people with these genetic characteristics if they are able to be narrowed down.

Arthur Beaudet, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine, said the University of Connecticut geneticists are most likely trying to "detect clear abnormalities of what we would call a mutation in a gene…or gene abnormalities and there are some abnormalities that are related to aggressive behavior."

"They might look for mutations that might be associated with mental illnesses and ones that might also increase the risk for violence," said Beaudet, who is also the chairman of Baylor College of Medicine's department of molecular and human genetics.

He believes geneticists should be doing this type of research because there are "some mutations that are known to be associated with at least aggressive behavior if not violent behavior."

"I don't think any one of these mutations would explain all of [the mass shooters], but some of them would have mutations that might be causing both schizophrenia and related schizophrenia violent behavior," he said.  "I think we could learn more about it and we should learn more about it."

Beaudet noted that studying the genes of murderers is controversial because there is a risk that those with similar genetic characteristics could possibly be discriminated against or stigmatized, but he still thinks the research would be helpful even if only a "fraction" may have the abnormality or mutation.

"Not all of these people will have identifiable genetic abnormalities," he said, adding that even if a genetic abnormality is found it may not be related to a "specific risk."

"By studying genetic abnormalities we can learn more about conditions better and who is at risk and what might be dramatic treatments," Beaudet said, adding that if the gene abnormality is defined, the "treatment to stop" other mass shootings or "decrease the risk is much approved."

Others in the field aren't so sure.

Dr. Harold Bursztajn, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, is a leader in his field on this issue, writing extensively on genetic discrimination.  He questions what the University of Connecticut researchers could "even be looking for at this point."

"Given how wide the net would have to be cast and given the problem of false positives in testing it is much more likely we would go ahead and find some misleading genetic markers, which would later be proven false while unnecessarily stigmatizing a very large group of people," Bursztajn said.

Bursztajn also cautions there are other risks to this kind of study: that other warning signs could be ignored.

"It's too risky from the stand point of unduly stigmatizing people, but also from distracting us from real red flags to prevent violence from occurring," Bursztajn said.  "The last thing we need when people are in the midst of grief is offering people quick fixes which may help our anxiety, but can be counterproductive to our long-term safety and ethics."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct262012

Prosecutors: DNA Links Suspect to Jessica Ridgeway's Murder

Courtesy Westminster Police Department(GOLDEN, Colo.) -- Prosecutors in court said they have a confession and DNA tying a 17-year-old college student to the kidnapping and murder of Jessica Ridgeway after sources told ABC News that human remains were found at his home in Westminster, Colo.

Austin Reed Sigg made his first court appearance in Jefferson County Court on Thursday, one day after he was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder, one count of second-degree kidnapping and two counts of criminal attempts.

Prosecutors said that Sigg's DNA was on Ridgeway's backpack and at the crime scene in Arvada, Colo., where her body was found on Oct. 10.  Lawyers also said that traces of Sigg's DNA were left at a crime scene involving a jogger who was attacked in May.

Sources told ABC News that human remains believed to be Ridgeway's were found inside his home, which is less than a mile away from where the 10-year-old lived with her mother.  Investigators have been searching for clues in Sigg's home since his arrest.  Sigg shares the home with his mother, Mindy.

"Austin functions on a different reality, perhaps, than the rest of us.  The idea that he has partial remains at his house may be excitement, may be adventure, may be sexual," former FBI agent and ABC News consultant Brad Garrett said.

Sigg was arrested on Wednesday after confessing to his mother, who then called police so her son could turn himself in, sources told ABC News on Thursday.

Though Sigg will be tried as an adult, if convicted, he is not eligible for the death penalty or for a mandatory life sentence without parole, under Colorado law.  Sigg has not entered a plea.

Cameras and sketches were not allowed inside the court on Thursday, but ABC News producer Philip Maravilla sat behind Ridgeway's family.  The family was dressed in pink, which was Ridgeway's favorite color.

The Ridgeway family did not interact with Sigg's family, according to Maravilla, who said he didn't see any eye contact between the two families.

"[The Ridgeway's] seemed to not have any animosity toward the Sigg group.  On the Sigg side, I could hear some weeping," Maravilla said.

Sigg is a student at Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, Colo., according to his arrest report, where classmates said he was studying mortuary science.  He took second place in a high school competition involving crime-scene investigations.

Sigg's parents are divorced, but his father, Rob, released a statement overnight.

"There are no words to express the sorrow that I and my family feel for their pain they are suffering" his statement said.  "I ask also for your prayers and support for Austin's mother, whose courageous act … unimaginably painful for any parent … has put this tragedy on the path to resolution."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul252012

Texas Cold Case: Arrest in 1980 Murder After DNA Match Made

Williamson County Sheriff's Office(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Nearly thirty-two years after Mildred McKinney was sexually assaulted, beaten and strangled in her home, authorities in Texas have made an arrest in the elderly woman's murder.

Authorities announced Tuesday that Stephen Alan Thomas, 53, is being held at Williamson County Jail on a capital murder charge for the Nov. 4, 1980 murder of McKinney, who was then 73.

Henry Lee Lucas, a convicted serial killer who has since died, had confessed to the crime, but his admission was discounted in the late 1980s after DNA testing, said Sgt. John Foster of the Williamson County Sheriff's Office.

"We never did know Stephen Alan Thomas until the DNA hit," Foster said. "That just opened a whole direction in the case."

Thomas' DNA was found on a ligature, which was used to tie McKinney's body, Foster said. His fingerprint was also found in her home, according to police. On June 27, 2012, a lab test showed the DNA was a match.

Authorities traveled to Dallas to interview Thomas and later to Austin, where he had relocated to his parents' home, Foster said.

"The first time I talked to him, he denied everything and ever knowing Mildred McKinney, ever being in her house and any type of sexual contact with her," Foster said. "[If that was the case] his DNA being in that house should have never been in there. He kind of worked himself into a bit of a problem there."

Foster said that because of the pending investigation, he was unable to discuss any theories as to why McKinney was targeted or whether Thomas knew her. But he said he was "thrilled" to see an arrest after several decades.

"I've been an officer for almost 20 years and this was the worst homicide that I've ever seen. From looking at pictures and having this case for almost eight years now, this is just total brutality for this poor little woman."

McKinney's grandson, Bob Stapleton, released a statement to ABC News' affiliate KVUE praising the work of Foster and the Williams County Sheriff's Department.

"Without their resolve, their determination, and their passion for this cold case we may have never known closure to my grandmother's story. She was a glorious woman who my family and I love and cherish and who will continue to live on in our fondest memories," he wrote.

Thomas is being held at Williamson County Jail on a $1 million bond.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul112012

DNA Links Student's Slaying to 'Occupy' Protest

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- DNA found on a chain used by Occupy Wall Street protesters might lead New York police to new clues in the unsolved 2004 slaying of Julliard student Sarah Fox. DNA found on Fox's CD player has been linked to DNA found on a chain the protesters used during a subway protest in March, sources told ABC News and its New York station WABC.

Fox, 21, was a student in the drama department of the renowned Julliard School. She had taken a temporary leave from the school when she disappeared May 19, 2004, after going out for a run in New York's Inwood Hill Park.

Her body was found naked six days later, surrounded by tulip petals. She had been strangled. Fox's CD player was later found in the area during a search for evidence. No arrest was ever made.

Now, DNA from the CD player has apparently been linked to DNA from a chain used during Occupy Wall Street protests on March 28, 2012.

Protesters wearing masks, hoods and gloves chained open the emergency gates to at least three subway stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn, according to Crime Stoppers. The suspects posted signs that said, "Customers ride for free." They also taped over the metro-card readers so that they could not be used.

The DNA was found on the chain used at the Beverly Road subway station in East Flatbush. Sources said the DNA has not been linked to a specific person, and might not even belong to the protestors who chained the gates open.

No one was arrested for the subway protests. The NYPD had released surveillance video of the suspects chaining the gates.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr182012

Cops Take Schoolkids’ DNA in Murder Case

ABC(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- Samples of DNA were collected without parental consent from students at a Sacramento, Calif., middle school in connection with the murder of an eighth-grade student who was found stabbed, strangled and beaten to death near the dugout of a local park.

The Sacramento Sheriff’s Department, which has been spearheading the investigation into the murder of Jessica Funk-Haslam, 13, said parental consent was not required in the DNA collection and interview of minors, several of whom were taken out of class during the day last week at Albert Einstein Middle School.

“These are interviews, not interrogations,” Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Ramos told ABCNews.com. “They are all consensual. Once it’s done, there is a mechanism in place for school administrators to notify parents.”

Ramos said the DNA collection was done at the time of the interview so efforts didn’t have to be “duplicated.” Ramos cautioned that the collection did not necessarily mean authorities had a DNA profile of the suspect.

Over the past few weeks, police have sifted through a number of leads and alibis but have been unable to name a suspect in Jessica’s murder.

The teen’s body was found at Rosemont Community Park on the morning of March 6. Jessica was reportedly arguing with her mother the night before and voluntarily left her home and boarded local transportation to a local park.

There is nothing under California law that prohibits DNA collection of consenting minors, said John Myers, a professor at the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.

“I think the answer is, kids can consent, and if they consented and it was knowing and intelligent, [law enforcement] can do the search,” he told the Sacramento Bee.

Ramos said last week’s DNA collection was not the first time detectives visited the school and that he expects they’ll be back for more follow-up.

He declined to say how many students have been interviewed, but said students who spoke with detectives were sent home with contact information to give to their parents.

“The parents have been completely supportive of it, in fact advocating our detectives do that for the benefit of excluding their children,” Ramos said. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback.”

But one parent who said her son was interviewed wasn’t happy with the process.

“My child’s in a room with two detectives being questioned and grilled and I’m sure he was quite frightened, which is very upsetting,” Michaela Brown told the Los Angeles Times.

Gabe Ross of the Sacramento City Unified School District said the school immediately made efforts to notify parents by phone and also sent home a letter. However, Ross said the school would not stand in the way of the investigation.

“We’re not in a position to interfere in any way with the law enforcement investigation. If and when law enforcement wants to interview our students, we inform parents immediately,” Ross said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan312012

Pennsylvania Councilman Charged in Lover's 1979 Death

Comstock/Thinkstock(BEAVER COUNTY, Pa.) -- A Pennsylvania councilman has been arrested and charged with strangling his young lover in a cold case that has haunted investigators for more than three decades.

Bridgewater Councilman Gregory Scott Hopkins, 65, was arrested Sunday in connection with the 1979 death of Catherine Janet Walsh, then 23, in Beaver County, Pa. about 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

Investigators said they were able to use DNA technology, which was unvailable at the time of the crime, to link Hopkins to evidence from the scene.

Walsh's father, Peter Joseph Caltury Sr., went to his daughter's house on Sept. 1, 1979 when he was unable to reach her. He discovered "Ms. Walsh's dead body lying face down on her bed with her hands bound with a white rope behind her back and a light blue bandana ligature tied around her neck," according to a criminal complaint.

Caltury immediately called police, who came and collected evidence that included the bed sheets, a light-blue nightgown, the white rope and the blue bandana. An autopsy determined her cause of death to be strangulation and the death was ruled a homicide.

Authorities interrogated Hopkins the same day.

"Mr. Hopkins told police that he was involved in a consensual sexual relationship with Ms. Walsh," according to the criminal complaint. "However, he went on to explain that this relationship did not involve any sexual contact with Ms. Walsh at her residence for about one month prior to her death."

Investigators from multiple agencies toiled over the case for years, but were never able to identify a suspect or motive.

Then, in 2010, persistent investigators resubmitted the evidence to a crime lab for forensic analysis. Hopkins' DNA was identified on Walsh's bed sheets, nightgown and the rope binding from the crime scene.

"This was a generational case and what I mean to define that is that generations, literally, of investigators worked on this case for the sum of 30 years that led to the filing of charges [Sunday] and the arrest of Mr. Hopkins," Beaver County District Attorney Anthony Berosh said at a news conference Monday.

"The road has finally come to an end," he said. "A promise was kept to Pete [the father] and his family and a secret now is revealed."

Walsh's elderly father and brother were on-hand for the announcement.

"Because of your dedication, professionalism and your relentless pursuit of justice, today has brought a measure of comfort, relief and satisfaction to our family," Walsh's brother, Francesco Caltieri, 52, said at the news conference.

A woman answered the phone at Hopkins' home, but hung up abruptly.

Hopkins' attorney maintains his client's innocence and says Hopkins' good-standing in the community does not line up with the accusations made against the building contractor.

"This gentleman has lived his entire life in Beaver County," Hopkins' attorney James Ross told ABC News. "For 32 years, he has operated a reputable business, he's a member of a bureau council and has had no involvement with the criminal justice system."

Ross says Hopkins is a well-liked community member, who is married with children and step-children.

"Mr. Hopkins' character traits and background do not lend itself to this type of crime. We intend to fully investigate the matter and defend him," Ross said.

Hopkins is being held in the Beaver County Jail without bond. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Monday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov302011

DNA Evidence ID's John Wayne Gacy Victim Three Decades Later

Des Plaines Police Department, Tim Boyle(CHICAGO) -- A boy who disappeared 35 years ago -- when he was 19 years old -- has finally been identified as a victim of notorious serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

Cook County, Ill., Sheriff Tom Dart told reporters on Tuesday that DNA testing had positively identified William “Bill” George Bundy as one of Gacy’s victims.

Bundy was among eight previously unidentified victims -- all boys and young men -- whose partial remains were sent to a testing lab at the University of North Texas.  Bundy’s brother, Robert, and sister, Laura, came forward after Dart launched a public campaign asking families of young men who could have been Gacy victims to provide DNA samples.

“I do hope and pray that Laura and Robert might find some peace and closure with the news today,” Dart said.

Bundy’s is the first positive identification of the eight previously unidentified victims, whose bodies were exhumed earlier this year, at Dart’s request, in the hope that sophisticated DNA testing that was not available at the time of Gacy’s killing spree could help clear up the mystery surrounding the unidentified remains.

Even if the remaining leads don’t turn up a clear connection to Gacy, technicians at the Texas lab will match them against a Justice Department database that contains an estimated 40,000 other unidentified bodies.

According to forensic pathologist Dr. Arthur Eisenberg, “If their samples can get into the national databases, then their cases are active.  They’re not cold.”

Gacy killed 33 young men and boys between 1972 and 1978, burying their bodies in and around his home outside Chicago.  He was executed by lethal injection in 1994.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov232011

Texas Lab May Hold Key to Serial Killer John Wayne Gacy's Secrets

Des Plaines Police Department, Tim Boyle(FORT WORTH, Texas) -- A lab in Fort Worth, Texas, may hold the key to unlocking one of the nation’s most notorious cold cases: the eight unknown victims of serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

The infamous mass murderer killed 33 young men and boys in the 1970s.  Most of the bodies were buried in and around Gacy’s suburban Chicago home.  Back then, before the days of DNA testing, investigators had to rely mainly on dental records.

Eight bodies, of boys and young men aged 14 to 27, were never positively identified.  Their remains were exhumed earlier this year in an effort by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to finally clear up the mystery.

Technicians at the University of North Texas Health Science Center are employing their sophisticated testing technology to provide critical clues.

Dart has asked families whose missing relatives fit the profile to provide DNA samples.  He told ABC News that the publicity surrounding the cold case “has turned into some very strong possibilities for identifying these victims from DNA.”

Even if the samples provided by families do not match the remains of Gacy victims, technicians at the Texas lab will check them against a Department of Justice database containing an estimated 40,000 other unidentified bodies across the U.S.

In the next few weeks, the lab hopes to determine whether it can, at long last, take advantage of the latest DNA technology so it can attach names to the eight unidentified victims.

Dart told ABC News affiliate WLS-TV in Chicago that he hopes the results bring some peace to their families: “In some instances, the results are going to be, we still haven’t found your loved one, but he was not one of (Gacy’s) victims, which should be some level of relief.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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