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Police: Case Backlog Delayed DNA Analyses in State College Rapes

on March 28, 2012 11:40 AM

Since news of a DNA link in three rape cases emerged in State College this month, StateCollege.com has fielded multiple inquiries from local readers and sources with one question:

Why, residents have asked, did it take so long for authorities to identify the DNA connection that ties the cases together?

The first rape happened Aug. 22, 2010, near East Prospect Avenue and Locust Lane; the second, Jan. 28, 2011, in the area of Fraternity Row and East Prospect Avenue; and the third, April 3, 2011, in the area of West Fairmount Avenue and South Burrowes Street, according to police reports.

But it wasn't until March 15 -- this month -- that borough police said they have definitive DNA evidence that connects the attacks to one assailant. (The assailant remains unidentified; more information is posted here.)

Asked about the delay, borough police Chief Tom King said it takes a state-police laboratory six to eight months -- at a minimum -- to complete DNA analyses.

That's because of "a significant backlog of cases to analyze," he wrote in an e-mail message.

"In late August 2011 (one year after the (first) rape occurred) we got the DNA profile on the first rape case," King wrote. "That was more than four months after the third rape had occurred."

The complete text of King's e-mail message is posted below.

Last week, StateCollege.com approached state police headquarters in Harrisburg for an explanation and more details about the DNA-testing backlog. It has acknowledged but has yet to fulfill the request.

King's e-mail message

  • The forensic evidence for the first rape case (8/22/10) was submitted to the PSP lab in Harrisburg and in October 2010 the PSP Harrisburg lab advised the evidence contained DNA. Once that is determined, PSP Harrisburg Lab send the evidence to the PSP-Greensburg lab where they analyze and determine the actual DNA profile of the specimen. This is the part of the analysis that takes a minimum of 6-8 months mostly because of a significant back log of cases to analyze. In late August 2011 (one year after the rape occurred) we got the DNA profile on the first rape case. That was more than 4 months after the 3rd rape had occurred.

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