Louisiana Murders Put Focus On DNA Test Backlog

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The arrest of Louisiana serial killer suspect Derrick Todd Lee has pointed to the need for more DNA testing, says USA Today. It also suggests more such killers may be out there. Authorities have found nearly three dozen other unsolved murders of women over the past dozen years near the state capital, Baton Rouge, where four of the five women were found. Statewide, more than 3,000 rape cases also remain open.

Across the country, more than 300,000 rapes and murders of women dating back 30 years remain unsolved, says a Justice Department report scheduled for release in July. Law enforcement officials say police often give up on solving old cases because they prefer to work on homicides and rapes that are current or simpler to solve.

Former New York City police commissioner Howard Safir, who runs a foundation that pays for DNA testing of unsolved sex crimes, says a backlog of unsolved murders of women is the “rule, not the exception” in dozens of police departments.

Police and prosecutors say that overworked crime labs have difficulty keeping up with current cases. About 89,000 women were raped and 3,200 were murdered in the U.S. in 2001. About 44% of the rapes were solved, the FBI says.About 52% of all murders were solved. As of January, the national DNA crime-fighting database held more than 1.2 million profiles of convicted offenders but only 48,000 from unsolved crimes.

Link: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2003-06-02-unsolved-usat_x.htm

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