The Washington State Patrol (WSP) Crime Lab Division helped detectives solve another violent crime. On June 15, 2021, Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office (GHSO) made an arrest in the 2003 rape of a 17 year old female in McCleary, Washington. Detectives from GHSO were able to identify a possible suspect using new technology that was not available when the case was initially investigated. As part of their investigation, DNA evidence was submitted to the WSP Crime Lab in Tacoma for DNA matching.
Forensic Scientist 3 William Dean was assigned the case. He, along with the staff at the Tacoma Crime Lab, set out to process the DNA evidence. It takes a team effort, including the front desk staff, evidence technicians and forensic scientists to properly receive, process and gather the results. These processes must be followed very carefully so they will be able to provide strong evidence when the case goes to trial. Dean and his team were able to advise GHSO that the reference and suspect samples were a match, which helped lead to probable cause to make the arrest.
Dean said, in cases like this, “With TV shows like CSI, juries expect DNA evidence.” Scientists like Dean and his colleagues help present that DNA evidence to those juries. According to WSP Chief John R. Batiste, “The staff at the Crime Lab are often the unsung heroes, vital in solving some of the most horrific cases like murder and rape. Their work to get the DNA profiles into the national database can be the key to closing cases, and putting violent offenders behind bars.” The profiles they match up close cases that are often thought to be unsolvable or have been classified as cold cases, some of which occurred decades ago.
This is another great example of the WSP Crime Lab working with our partner agencies to solve crimes, and bring some closure to the victims. Grays Harbor County Undersheriff Brad Johansson said, “The Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office is thrilled to develop probable cause to make an arrest in a cold case using current technology. The WSP Crime Lab is a valuable partner to obtain probable cause to make an arrest. Without their assistance these crimes may go unsolved. They have been of great assistance helping us solve crime using modern technology.” The evidence may be small, but the impact the WSP Crime Lab has is huge.