Backlogged: DNA Tests Sit, Crimes Continue

Report: 2 teens raped after DNA linked crimes

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Backlogs of DNA evidence are overwhelming police department investigators.

    DNA testing has helped solve thousands of crimes. But the technology has also caused huge backlogs for crime labs that have allowed criminals to elude arrest.

    Such was the case with Tommie Naylor, the Chicago Tribune reports.

    After state crime lab tests found DNA linking three rapes last year, it took a year for detectives to gather enough evidence to arrest Naylor.  In that time, he allegedly kidnapped and raped two more teen girls, according to the paper.

    "There shouldn't have been another girl attacked after me," the third victim, who was taken from a bus stop and assaulted, told the Tribune. "The police didn't do what they were supposed to do."

    Staffing to handle DNA cases in the Chicago Police Department has not increased at the level of the tests from cases coming into the office, officials said. In fact, after superintendent Jody Weis took over, the DNA unit was downsized. 

    More than 40 percent of the cases where Chicago police got DNA hits linking felons to crimes from 2001 to 2008 are still open, according to officials. 

    "When police don't act on a DNA hit in a timely fashion, it opens us up to more attacks," attorney Neha Lall of Chicago's Life Span, told the Tribune. 

    The Illinois State Police crime lab came under scrutiny in 2003 when reports surfaced that untested evidence was shelved for more than a year. Legislators moved quickly to fund the lab and monitor the DNA backlog more closely.