For Sgt. Michael Lang of the Englewood Police Department, the day he was able to tell a 25-year-old woman that a man suspected of raping her more than 10 years earlier had been arrested stands out as one of his best on the job.
A break in the case came thanks to a new law that requires the collection of DNA from all felony arrestees. That aspect of former Senate Bill 77 took effect July 1, 2011.
The next day, Madison County sheriff’s deputies arrested a man on a felony abduction charge and authorities collected his DNA. When entered into the Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s CODIS database, it matched DNA collected after the rape of a 14-year-old girl in Englewood in 2001. A grand jury indicted the suspect on multiple charges in that case, and he is awaiting trial.
“Informing the victim and her family that this long, torturous mystery was finally moving toward closure was one of the happiest moments of my career,” Sgt. Lang said. “SB 77 connected the dots in a case that might have never been connected. For this, I know a family and a certain young woman, now 25, who are very, very thankful.”
As of late March, 173 unsolved crimes now have a prime suspect through DNA matches made possible by the new law. Previously, only the DNA of those convicted of felonies and certain sexually oriented misdemeanors was entered into CODIS.
“Finding someone’s DNA at a crime scene is often the piece of evidence that makes the case and lands the criminal in prison, where he or she belongs,” Attorney General Mike DeWine said. “We now see how SB 77 is helping us identify more bad guys, who just might have gotten away with their crimes had it not been for the new law.”
Law enforcement agencies’ submissions to CODIS are up from about 2,700 per month before the law took effect to about 4,600 per month currently. The increased submission rate will help grow the database — which now contains more than 428,000 convicted offender and arrestee DNA profiles — and in turn increase the potential for solving more cases.
Since the law took effect, the number of cases in which a sample matched DNA from a known offender or an unsolved crime has increased from about 110 per month to 127 per month.
“Every new DNA profile represents an opportunity to resolve cases that may have been pending for years, to bring criminals to justice, and to bring closure to victims,” Attorney General DeWine said. “That’s what Senate Bill 77 is doing.”