February 25, 2013
Tom Barnes, Director
Portland Metro Forensic Laboratory
The Oregon State Police (OSP) Forensic Services Division DNA Analysis Program has hit a milestone when the CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) recorded its 5,000th “hit” last week generating investigative leads based on DNA recovered from crime scene evidence.
CODIS is a database of DNA information collected through the analysis/testing of convicted offender samples and evidence samples suspected of being left behind by the perpetrator. The OSP database program was established in September 1991, and since that date more than 165,000 convicted offender samples have been entered into the database. Oregon is an “all felon” state which means Oregon law requires all individuals convicted of a felony are required to provide a sample for the DNA database. Upon entry of the convicted offender DNA results into the database it is compared and potentially linked to unsolved criminal cases both in Oregon and nationally.
OSP Portland Forensic Lab Director Tom Barnes credited the success of the database program with the combination of in-house offender profile analysis and increased casework productivity of the DNA section. A large majority of the hits obtained have been from the analysis of evidence from property crimes, although the database has also been instrumental in violent crime cases, too.
“Approximately half of the burglary cases we process will result in a CODIS hit,” said Barnes. “For every two burglary cases we DNA process, one will hit to either a convicted offender or another case.”
Since the first CODIS hit in 1994 on a rape case, the OSP Forensic Services Division staff has helped investigating law enforcement agencies solve many puzzling and serious crimes including 1999 Portland Forest Park killer (Todd Allen Reed), Interstate 5 serial killer (Randall Woodfield), and the British Columbia “Highway of Tears” murders (Bobby Jack Fowler).
Approximately 800 to 1,000 new samples are received each month. For every 43 offenders processed the OSP Forensic Services Division gets a hit on a case. These hits during the last 18 years has aided investigations in 34 of Oregon’s 36 counties, 42 other states across the nation, and a recent hit that solved a 1970’s homicide in British Columbia, Canada.
After the 1,000th hit occurred twelve years later in 2006, it took just seven years to reach the 5,000th hit milestone.