The Charleston Police Department in South Carolina purchased an M-Vac® System in 2017 and right away started working on their cold cases. Among those cases were four separate cases of women who were murdered between 1994 and 1997. The evidence for these murders had been stored for years in a warehouse with no temperature controls, so the pieces were subject to heat, humidity and time, all of which are known factors in the degradation of DNA.
Case A - The victim's denim shorts and underwear were originally recovered in 1994 and tested a year later, but there was insufficient DNA. The department sampled both pieces again with the M-Vac® in 2017 and the underwear yielded a partial mixture profile, suitable for Y-STR comparison.
Case B - In 1995, a woman was found deceased with a piece of cloth in her mouth and a bite mark on her leg. The testing done at the time couldn't give them any leads, either from the bite mark or the cloth. The cloth was re-sampled with the M-Vac® in 2017 and this time they got a partial mixture profile, suitable for Y-STR comparison.
Case C - In 1994, a pair of underwear was recovered from a victim, whose body was in an advanced state of decomposition. It was sent for DNA testing in 1995 and semen was detected but they could only get a partial profile. After years in the warehouse, in 2017, they resampled the underwear using the M-Vac®. This time they generated a full DNA profile that was able to be entered into CODIS!
Case D - The final victim was murdered in 1997, and her denim skirt and pair of underwear weren't tested until 2008. Cuttings from the skirt yielded a full profile from an unidentified female and cuttings from the underwear yielded a mixture of at least two individuals. The profiles were not suitable for entering into CODIS. Again, the samples were taken from the warehouse storage and resampled using an M-Vac® in 2017. This time the skirt sample yielded a partial profile from at least two individuals and the underwear yielded a partial profile of an unidentified female.
These cases had mixed results, but having very positive DNA results in three out of four cases with evidence that was very compromised and already sampled is very encouraging. Even in the cases where the results were not CODIS quality, the profiles can be very helpful to the case if a suspect is named. The M-Vac® is a great tool for working cold cases.
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