Some criminals in Wisconsin have likely escaped charges thanks to a 12,000-felon hole in the state’s crime lab DNA database, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Chisholm has not filed charges in some cases after submitting DNA evidence to the state and being told there was no match with a convicted felon who was a suspect. By law, the DNA of all felons convicted after 2000 was supposed to be collected for the database.
DNA has become a cornerstone of criminal cases, convicting some people and exonerating others. The bombshell this week that 12,000 DNA samples from felons that should be in the 128,605-sample database are not there shakes confidence in the system, Chisholm said. He said he needs to know immediately whose DNA wasn’t in the database to see if it’s not too late to file charges in some cases. He did not have an estimate of how many cases could be affected. “The clock is ticking here,” Chisholm said. “There are serious offenders who have not had their day in court.” The hole was discovered as officials examined why the DNA of suspected serial killer Walter Ellis wasn’t in the database, even though it was supposedly taken in a prison in 2001. Ellis is charged with killing seven women over 21 years.