PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The situation of backlogged, unanalyzed evidence at the Allegheny County Crime Lab has been turned around.
Federal grants have allowed the forensic scientists at the county’s new crime lab to analyze and process the evidence under the watchful eyes of the current Allegheny County Medical Examiner Dr. Karl Williams.
“We had a thousand cases that we went through,” he said.
The county purchased state-of-the art technology, including a DNA sorter which can prepare more than a dozen samples for analysis at one time and a scanning microscope allowing lab techs to quickly indemnity blood and sperm in sexual assaults.
And they’ve paid off in solving violent crime.
For example, there was a shooting in broad daylight on Smithfield Street three years ago. Witnesses said the assailant had a beard and dreadlocks which turned out to be a disguise later found by police.
“We’ve got a disguise composed of a wig and a mask,” Dr. Williams said. “We extracted DNA from that.”
The DNA run against other DNA that had been recently processed by the lab came up with a positive match. The evidence led to the arrest of Terrell Childs who was convicted of murder on the basis of that evidence.
“It’s crucial to help solve crimes that we know have been committed and know we’ve got people that we can identify,” Dr. Williams said.
The lab is now staying current on DNA and other crime analysis even though the demands are greater.
“We analyze more cases, we complete more cases, we report out on more cases every year,” Dr. Williams added.
More than just efficiency, it’s a matter of public safety. Finding out just what was in that backlog means that murders and rapists can’t hide there anymore.