Governor Terry McAuliffe has announced that the Virginia Department of Forensic Science achieved its 10,000th data bank hit last month, the latest milestone in Virginia’s continuing history as a national leader in the use of this crime-fighting tool.
The 10,000th cold hit is related to a case involving a sexual assault in Northern Virginia in August 2014. The investigation is still underway.
“DNA Data Banks have become a 21st century crime-fighting tool, and the Virginia Department of Forensic Science has been at the forefront in using it to keep our citizens safe,” said Governor McAuliffe. “The 10,000 data bank hits reported by the Department have provided invaluable leads to law enforcement officers investigating unsolved crimes. The data bank has also assisted in exonerating the wrongfully-convicted thanks to hits identifying the actual perpetrators. My administration is committed to maximizing the benefit of this important resource.”
Governor McAuliffe made the announcement during a tour of the state’s Central Laboratory with U.S. Senator Mark Warner, D-Va.
Senator Warner said he is committed to ensuring that the federal government remains a strong and reliable funding partner for states as they expand and improve their forensic evidence programs.
“I have always been proud to champion Virginia’s DNA testing program,” said Senator Warner, who as Governor in 2002 announced the 1,000th “cold hit” from a DNA crime scene. “Because of the Commonwealth’s robust commitment to this important program, Virginia has long led the nation in the use of cutting-edge DNA technology to protect the innocent and punish the guilty. As Senator, I promise to keep fighting to make sure that law enforcement has the federal support and resources it needs to bring offenders to justice. This is a matter of public safety.”
Virginia’s DNA data bank contains approximately 431,000 samples, and hits occur on a daily basis.
In April 2014, Governor McAuliffe signed legislation requiring state and local law enforcement agencies to conduct an inventory of all physical evidence recovery kits, or “PERK” kits, in their custody that contain biological evidence that has been collected but not submitted to the laboratory for analysis.
To date, DFS has received PERK inventories from 87 percent of the more than 380 law enforcement agencies in Virginia reporting more than 2,000 untested kits.
A report on the results of the inventory will be submitted to the General Assembly by DFS by July 1, 2015.
This year, Governor McAuliffe successfully passed legislation (HB1928 and SB1187) that adds certain misdemeanor violations associated with escalating violence to the list of offenses requiring DNA samples.
Timeline of Milestones in Virginia’s DNA Data Bank program:
1989: Virginia established one of the first DNA Data Banks in the United States.
1993: The first DFS data bank hit occurred in a Northern Virginia case in which a 63-year-old woman was robbed and raped by an unknown assailant. The “hit” was associated with a 33-year-old suspect who was convicted and sentenced to 30 years for rape, statutory burglary, and attempted sodomy.
1997: Virginia had its first out-of-state success when serial rape cases from Florida were solved through a hit to a Virginia convicted felon.
2002: Then-Governor Mark Warner announced 1,000th cold hit.
2003: Virginia became one of the first states to collect DNA for its data bank from persons arrested for violent felonies, resulting in a first hit just two months after the law was implemented.