Under Maryland law, Raymont Hopewell should have had his DNA taken after he was sentenced for selling $20 worth of cocaine in 2004. The Maryland state police, lacking technicians, never got around to it, reports USA Today. No one knew that his DNA matched two unsolved rape/murders on the national DNA database. He committed three more murders, one rape, and four assaults before being caught in 2005. Then, a DNA test was performed. Hopewell, now 36, pleaded guilty to all five murders, including three that a DNA match could have prevented.
Since 1998, the state and federal governments have used a computer database to match genetic samples from convicted or suspected criminals to DNA taken at the scene of unsolved crimes. The Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) has made matches that caught criminals or otherwise aided in nearly 50,500 cases. The DNA profiles of about 4 million criminals have been added to the system since 2001. There is a growing list of DNA samples collected but not analyzed. Lisa Hurst, who edits the DNAResource.com website, said cases in which such missed DNA matches led to further crimes have begun to “pop up increasingly” as test backlogs grow. “You have to believe there are a whole lot more than what gets reported,” she says. “This is not something that people want to talk about. It’s much worse than just an embarrassment.”