Lubbock police using DNA evidence to solve old cases - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Lubbock police using DNA evidence to solve old cases

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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

Authorities are turning back the hands of time to solve cold cases spanning decades.

Year after year, officials with no solid leads in cold cases turn to DNA. The Lubbock District Attorney's office were the first ones to indict a DNA profile before they linked it to a person. More so this tool has brought families justice in murder cases.

Lubbock District Attorney Matt Powell says they look at unsolved murders on a weekly basis.

"The hard part is not knowing, and if there is someone on the street capable of doing that to their loved one, they are capable of doing it to somebody else," Powell said.

To prevent that Powell, says he and police work together to re-submit items taken at the crime scene for testing. All they need is DNA preserved on something as small as a thread.

"One thing that's important about preserving DNA is making sure you don't wrap it in plastic or anything that will attract moisture. Moisture will ruin the sample. We use paper," said Dr. Jason Terrell, Owner Any Lab Test Now.

Terrell says they test DNA at their lab, sometimes for private investigators. Once the samples are collected and sent to the lab, the results show a percentage.

"This shows 99.9999998%. Considering there are 300 million in the United States, the chance of you bringing in DNA this similar is very low," Terrell said.

Police do the same. However they have a national database to match DNA to.

"If you are incarcerated at the Texas Department of Corrections then yes, they take your blood. They get a DNA profile from that and that profile is put in a system called Codis," Powell said.

Just last year DNA testing helped solve three cold cases in Lubbock.

Most recently police were able to connect Reynaldo Rey to the 1989 murder of Minnie Elkins, 93. She was found dead in her Overton neighborhood home. Authorities found Rey through the Codis database and arrested him in California.

Officials say DNA also linked Kerry Don Williams, 35, to the homicide of Charlotte Ivey, 44. She was found partially nude and stabbed to death at the Lindsay Laundromat in 1994.

 It was the same situation for the candy lady murder. Police arrested Clarence Hooker, 46, after re-testing DNA at the crime scene. Hooker is accused of stabbing Mary Davis,78, to death in 2004.

DNA testing has also exonerated people wrongfully convicted, like Timothy Cole. Cole was accused of raping a tech student in 1986. Cole died in prison before his name was cleared, 24 years after the alleged crime.

Powell says technology has helped take criminals off the street and bring some sort of closure for families dealing with heartache.

"There is a great sense of satisfaction that justice is served for these families.

Right now there are still 32 unsolved homicides in Lubbock, dating back to 1979. Police hope DNA testing can help solve those too.

Copyright 2012 KCBD NewsChannel 11

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