The case of accused Milwaukee serial killer Walter Ellis may show that the idea of definitive DNA databases may be a bit of an exaggeration. Ellis was at a halfway house for a federal drug conviction in 1992 when investigators say he strangled and stabbed a woman. Authorities contend he later killed at least five more women. Yet, even as he continued to have frequent contact with the criminal justice system, officials were unable to detect his alleged ties to a string of at least eight serial killings of prostitutes. Ellis’ DNA was not in any databases checked by law enforcement until last week. His DNA profile, which could have provided authorities with a possible link to the slayings, should have been on file since 2001, says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Ellis’ DNA was taken in an Wisconsin prison in 2001 and mailed to the state crime laboratory. However, justice officials maintained they never received Ellis’ DNA. “I can’t speculate as to what might have happened while Mr. Ellis was in corrections custody or what happened or where it went,” said Special Assistant Attorney General Kevin St. John. “I can only tell you we have no record that we ever received it.”