Investigative Unit: Hundreds of cases remain open, despite DNA match
BATON ROUGE- Hundreds of positive DNA matches from the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab tied to criminal cases have done nothing to resolve them. The positive DNA test results from evidence in those cases were sent to area law enforcement agencies, for them to investigate.
In the eight parish area where we live, there are 251 open DNA cases that have a match. At least 13 of those are from homicides. That means DNA from a piece of evidence, is connected to DNA in the CODIS system. When DNA samples are generated, they are compared to samples that are already in the DNA database from offenders who have been previously arrested or convicted. Currently, there are 500,000 DNA Samples in the State's CODIS System.
However, when the information on the 251 matches was passed on to local law enforcement, it's unclear if they did anything with it.
The parishes that make up the 251 number are:
- East Baton Rouge
- Pointe Coupee
- West Baton Rouge
- West Feliciana
- East Feliciana
East Baton Rouge, Ascension and Livingston Parishes are among the top three in our area that had the highest number of open DNA matches in the system that were not resolved. Numbers obtained by the Investigative Unit show there were 94 in East Baton Rouge Parish. Baton Rouge Police alone, had 70. Ascension Parish had 40 open cases, and Livingston Parish had 21.
"It is inexcusable if the evidence isn't being followed up on," State Police Colonel Mike Edmonson said.
High profile cases get tagged immediately and sent to local law enforcement, according to LSP. Those that aren't high profile but still have a match get sent to law enforcement as well. However, those matches appear to have fallen on deaf ears since the crime lab never heard back.
"When it's a major crime, a murder, rape that's a sad moment," Edmonson said. "That information was moved forward and nothing happened with it."
According to State Police, a match is a good investigative lead for law enforcement to follow. If those leads are chased down and the DNA sample clears the suspect, or a suspect is arrested, it's the responsibility of those agencies to alert the crime lab.
"They need to notify us also so we can close that out," Dr. Joanie Broacato, DNA Manager for LSP Crime Lab said.
Until that happens, that 251 number stands. That could mean there are 251 hot leads that have not been followed up on.
Baton Rouge Police said the 70 open cases for its agency is not accurate. BRPD says their number of open DNA cases is much lower, but a spokesman could not provide that number to the Investigative Unit. Instead, he said detectives working those cases have not been inputting information on cleared cases into the DNA database.
The following agencies in our area have open DNA cases that the State Police Crime Lab submitted positive DNA matches and evidence to:
- Albany PD
- Ascension PSO
- Baker PD
- Clinton PD
- Denham Springs PD
- E. Feliciana PSO
- Gonzales PD
- Iberville PD
- Livingston PCO
- Livingston PD
- Livingston PSO
- New Roads PD
- Plaquemine PD
- Pointe Coupee PSO
- Port Allen PD
- Port Vincent PD
- Sorrento PD
- St. James PSO
- State Fire Marshal
- W. Feliciana PSO
- Walker PD
- White Castle PD
- Zachary PD
The State Police Crime Lab has so much work to do, there are currently openings for five new DNA analysts. This year alone, the submission of rape kits has increased by 70 percent.