New DNA Database Links Convict to Rapes

New DNA Database Links Convict to Rapes

The state’s growing DNA database has for the first time helped police link a convicted offender to new crimes.

A man is being held without bail after evidence collected from two rape victims was found to match material in his genetic profile in the state’s convicted offender database.

Police have not released the man’s name, but said his DNA profile was entered into the database last year after he was convicted of burglary.

The rapes occurred in June and were handled by separate police departments, according to State Police Crime Laboratory officials.

Police predict they will find more links of convicted offenders to crimes as the database continues to grow. Officials said it will expand from about 350 profiles to about 3,500 in six months.

20 states linked to national database

“This is just the beginning,” said Lt. Michael Harriman, director of the state police lab.

Maine is one of 20 states now linked to a national database that allows states to share genetic profiles.

The state’s convicted offender database allows police to find matches of evidence even when no suspect has been identified.

“That is the beauty of this system,” said Theresa Calicchio, DNA analyst for the crime lab.

Police believe the database will deter convicted offenders from committing new crimes.

“We do know that violent crimes against the person will be affected by this ability to use databasing to target violent offenders. It will have a very positive impact,” Harriman said.

Many criminals required to give samples

The Maine DNA Data Banks and Data Base Act requires people convicted of any of 17 crimes, from murder to aggravated criminal mischief, to provide a blood sample to be used to create a DNA profile. DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the material that comprises the unique genetic code of each individual.

The act was based partly on crime figures that showed convicted offenders were more likely to commit a crime than those never before convicted of crimes.

National crime statistics show that about 52 percent of people found guilty of burglary eventually will be found guilty of a murder or a sexual assault, Harriman said. Also, judges are less likely to grant bail when DNA evidence links a crime to a convicted offender, he said.

“With violent offenders, especially sexual predators, the courts today certainly consider the threat to society as to conditions of bail,” Harriman said.

Because of recent improvements in DNA technology, genetic profiles can be taken from evidence as scanty as saliva left on a cigarette butt at the scene of a crime.

“Requirements are becoming so much less that every perpetrator … is going to leave a sample behind,” said Timothy Kupferschmid, a senior DNA analyst at the lab.

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