Detroit Leaves Ammo, Evidence, Files In Rubble of Closed Lab


Thousands of rounds of live ammunition, sealed evidence kits, and case files — some containing Social Security numbers of rape and assault victims — lay amid rubble in a crime lab abandoned by Detroit police two years ago, reports the Detroit Free Press. “It’s incomprehensible that any law enforcement agency would not be mindful to preserve evidence,” Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny said. Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr., vowed to “make sure that this never happens again.”

The lab, housed in a former elementary school, was ordered closed in 2008 because of sloppy investigations. It’s now littered with tools, computers, TVs, cameras, and microscopes, in addition to the other items. The lab was open to trespassers for at least the past week. Parts of a fence around the perimeter have collapsed, and a window was broken. As recently as Monday, the front door was ajar. After Free Press inquiries, police arrived yesterday to scan the building, and a private security detail was on duty in the evening. John Collins, director of the Michigan State Police forensic science division, said records and evidence should never be left unattended and accessible. “We know that any case can be reopened at any time,” he said, adding that DNA evidence often triggers new investigations of old cases. “Just leaving records sitting behind isn’t something, from our perspective, we would ever do. We control our records just as a matter of principle.”

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