So they found "DNA evidence" super quick and it led to a homeless man and this gives cause for the police chief to get a $1 million local DNA lab to speed up testing.
The fact that the hard drives were recovered separately from the laptops is troubling. And a homeless man turned himself in? What a joke!Laptop scare makes case for a local DNA lab
By GAIL KERR • January 19, 2008
The Case of the Laptop Caper has been wrapped up just about as fast as a 30-minute TV episode of The Andy Griffith Show.
Motivated by scared voters and, undoubtedly, political pressure from a new mayor and Metro Council, the city police department solved this one quick like a bunny.
The laptops stolen from the election commission over the Christmas holiday, one of which contained the Social Security number of every registered voter, have been found.
One man has been arrested, based on what had to be the fastest DNA results to have ever come back in the history of science.
"Great work," Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas said. "Great work."
The homeless man who is charged with the break-in had a record, so his DNA was on file. He apparently cut himself on the broken window and left a drop of blood.
On Dec. 26, officer Billy Merryman (who just retired) processed that crime scene for all it was worth. He found the blood.
The TBI hurried up testing. Two full-time detectives were assigned the case. When they had a DNA match, officers saturated the city to find the guy, who eventually turned himself in.
Serpas said they turned the burner on high not because of political pressure, but because this was a unique situation. People were scared their identities would be stolen, their credit ruined.
Proper tools do the job
What if it were your laptop, stolen when a thief broke your car window? A laptop with access to your bank records and other personal information?
Would the police department put this much effort into solving the crime?
Serpas says the answer is absolutely — if he has the tools he needs.
And the main tool he is missing is a $1 million local DNA lab to speed up testing.
"Somebody breaks the window out of your car and there was blood on that scene, we would take that crime and work it," Serpas said. "Chances are that person is involved in something else. If we have blood, if we had our own DNA lab," investigators can go "as far as you want" to solve crimes.
The opportunity passes by them every single day, because the TBI has a continued backlog for DNA testing.
If evidence is found at a crime scene and there's no known suspect, the local district attorney has to write a letter requesting a DNA test. It can slow down the process.
The TBI isn't going to spend much time with the sweat off a ball cap left behind a burglary scene from Nashville, Serpas said. But he would like to.
These criminals are generally not the brightest flames. They leave DNA and fingerprints behind. And most of them have a record that can be matched.
The chief, who pledged to make Nashville the "safest city in America," wants to process those scenes as intensely as Officer Merryman did at the election commission.
"Who knows what I could find?" he said.