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Forensic Evidence Helps Local Murder Investigation

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(Credit: KDKA)

(Credit: KDKA)

Andy Sheehan Andy Sheehan
KDKA-TV Investigator Andy Sheehan began his broadcast journalism...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The badly decomposed body of a woman was discovered wrapped in a carpet and discarded in a wooded area in Wilkinsburg leaving the police and forensic scientists at the Allegheny County Crime Lab little to go on.

But using a partial fingerprint taken from the victim’s pinkie, within hours the lab was able to make the positive identification of a 36-year-old missing mother named Amy Kucsmas — and the search for her killers is on.

The lab starts with the carpet Kucsmas was wrapped in. Police have discovered a seemingly identical carpet in the Mt. Oliver apartment of their chief suspects Timothy Brunner and Kristopher Benjamin.

“The question is how can you match the identity of those carpets?” Allegheny County Medical Examiner Dr. Karl Williams said.

The answer is fiber analysis. Using comparison microscopes, the forensic scientists are able to compare the miniscule fibers of the carpet found at the scene and determine them to be an exact match of the carpet in the apartment — but that’s not all.

“In addition to the fiber from the rug, we also had hairs,” Dr. Williams said.

Investigators find strands of Amy Kuscmas’ hair in the suspects’ pickup truck which police believed was used to transport the body.

Using DNA analysis the scientists make another exact match, giving prosecutors the quality evidence needed to get homicide convictions against Brunner and Benjamin.

“You’re trying put together all the evidence to say I’ve got a compelling enough story that I believe,” Dr. Williams said.

They don’t carry guns and they don’t make arrests, but just the same the science they practice here can put criminal away for a very long time.

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