A fellow Wisconsin prisoner posed as Walter Ellis in 2001 and gave a DNA sample for him, keeping the accused serial killer out of a statewide database and letting him avoid capture for years, says a state memo reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It wasn’t an isolated incident. DNA for about 12,000 felons convicted since 2000 is missing from the database.
Even today, the failures in the system that allowed Ellis’ bogus sample to slip through likely still exist, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said. “Twelve thousand doesn’t shock me. We know there were submissions not made,” he said in an interview. “There are issues out there that still need to be corrected.” The missing samples represent about 10 percent of all DNA profiles in the database, which law enforcement and prosecutors constantly rely on to solve crimes. Ellis is suspected of killing seven Milwaukee women over 21 years. One victim was killed in 2007 – six years after Ellis’ DNA should have been on file with the state. A top state official acknowledged she might still be alive if the sample had been there.