Meticulous work that began decades ago by the Kansas City crime lab to create an archive of evidence is paying off, reports the Missouri city’s Star. Lab workers preserved hairs on glass slides and stored blood and bodily fluid samples in envelopes in freezers. Many other labs in U.S. cities regularly sent such evidence back to police, where it was lost, destroyed or left to degrade in improper storage facilities. Now, with advancements in DNA testing, those archived samples have become a virtual gold mine. The lab boasts evidence from more than 4,300 crimes dating to 1972 that can be tested for DNA.
“Other labs wrinkled their noses at us,” said John Wilson, a Kansas City Regional Crime Lab chemist at the time. “Why would you want to save all that stuff?… It wasn't seen as valuable.” Since the early 2000s, police have reopened hundreds of old investigations using some of that evidence. Jackson County prosecutors, meanwhile, have won convictions in 106 old murder and sexual assault cases – including putting away at least two serial killers and four serial rapists. “We're the best in the country,” said Ted Hunt, Jackson County chief trial assistant. “No one else cranks out cold cases like we do.”