Massachusetts law enforcement officials are reviewing unsolved homicides to determine whether unanalyzed DNA evidence might crack cases after a harshly critical study yesterday found that the state police crime laboratory has a backlog of 16,000 untested crime scene samples, the Boston Globe reports. State police detectives will focus on cold homicide cases, while prosecutors will home in on sexual assaults. Public safety officials said they will use the study — conducted by Vance, a consulting firm — as a roadmap to fix problems at the lab that have been cited repeatedly by outside investigators.
The $267,000 study concluded that quality control at the crime laboratory is badly broken, leading to a host of problems, including one of the nation’s worst backlogs in untested biological evidence. Kevin Burke, state secretary of public safety, and Colonel Mark Delaney, state police superintendent, said they were stunned to learn about the amount of untested DNA. They said it will probably take millions of dollars and months for the lab to sort through the 16,000 cases. Those cases date to the mid-1980s and include about 1,000 deaths and more than 6,600 sexual assaults.