The unsmoked Newport cigarette was just a few feet from the 14-year-old Glen Burnie, Md., girl’s body. A crime scene technician picked it up, bagged it and marked it as evidence. On it was Lisa Haenel’s blood — and someone else’s saliva. That was January 1993. Year after year, as DNA technology improved, lab workers analyzed tiny pieces of the cigarette — pieces not much bigger than a speck of dirt — to try to create the best DNA profile possible. Finally, last fall, they were able to match it to DNA from a convicted murderer, Anne Arundel County police told the Baltimore Sun.
DNA also connected the suspect in Haenel’s case to two women who had been killed in Gambrills in the late 1980s, Boontem Andersen and Mary Elaine Shereika, according to police. They said this paved the way for them to charge Alexander Wayne Watson Jr. this week with three counts of first-degree murder. “Witnesses tend to forget,” State’s Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee said. “DNA is a timeless stamp that could always be used as evidence.” Yesterday, as Watson made his first court appearance in the county, detectives and crime scene technicians told the story of how that cigarette and other minute clues helped them tie together the cases, exposing what police believe is a serial killer who lived just doors from his victims and began preying upon women when he was a teen-ager.