Archive for April 20th, 2011

Police Hoping That Familial DNA Can Help Catch Another Serial Killer

Daytona Beach Victims

Daytona Beach’s top cop believes new DNA technology will help his department catch the serial killer who has eluded police since 2005.

Familial DNA has helped police in California nab the so-called Grim Sleeper serial killer.

He was called that because he lay dormant in between murders for 18 years.

“We’re extremely interested in this because of our serial killer. Our serial killer may have an offspring, which is in the database,” said Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood.

Police in California had DNA of the Grim Sleeper in a nationwide database.

The killer is responsible for the deaths of 10 women dating back to the 1980s.

New software emerged that tracks DNA of the killer’s family members, in this case his son, who was arrested on an unrelated crime.

Investigators used the information and followed the father, Lonnie Franklin, 57.

They took a DNA sample from pizza Franklin had recently eaten, made the exact match and then arrested the former garage attendant.

The Daytona Beach serial killer left behind DNA samples inside three of the four women he raped and killed.

The first was Laquetta Gunther, 45, who’s body was found on Beach Street on Dec. 26, 2005.

On Jan. 14, 2006, the body of Julie Green, 34, was found in a construction site off of LPGA Boulevard.

Iwanna Patton, 35, was found on Williamson Boulevard six weeks later on Feb. 24.

The killer then laid dormant for two years.

Twenty-year-old Stacey Gage’s body turned up Jan. 2, 2008 in a wooded area on Hancock Boulevard.

The DNA sample was turned over to Florida Department of Law Enforcement where it waits for a perfect match.

But Chitwood wants to use familial DNA to track down the serial killer’s family members, which in turn could lead back to the killer.

However, familial DNA is only approved in states like California, Colorado, and recently in Virginia. It has been used in Great Britain for several years.

Chitwood is working with the State Attorney’s Office, who is trying to convince both the state attorney general, as well as Gov. Rick Scott to sign off on it for use in Florida.

The police chief said familial DNA would only be used in major crimes, like the serial killer case.

He believes that if approved, it could be in use within a year.

Chitwood said the person who came up with the software is making it available to FDLE for free.

But he said the clock is ticking.

“You have a killer on the loose who has killed four women, who is not gonna stop,” Chitwood said. “We may be in a cooling off period here. But if we have learned anything in the history of this country with serial killers, they’ll continue until they get caught.”


I am all for the use of familial DNA especially in cases involving serial crimes. I do not know why people worry so much about using it. It helped to catch the Grim Sleeper, Lonnie Franklin and DNA has helped to link unknown victims to their killers. I think we need to give law enforcement all the help that we can.

Illinois Lawmakers Taking Another Look At Capital Punishment

Some state lawmakers are putting focus on a bill to reinstate capital punishment after police say a Canadian man researched Illinois’ death penalty before shooting a Westmont woman this week.

Dmitry Smirnov, 20, of Surrey, British Columbia, was charged with first-degree murder Thursday in the death of 36-year-old Jitka Vesel. (Read the full story.) Police say Smirnov told them he looked up whether Illinois had a death penalty beforehand.

Last month, Illinois became the 16th state to ban the death penalty. Soon after Gov. Pat Quinn signed the law, opposing state lawmakers began a push to reinstate some capital crimes.

One bill, sponsored by state Rep. Dennis Reboletti, R-46th, of Elmhurst, would put the reinstatement issue on a statewide ballot in the 2012 election. Another bill would put the the death penalty back on the table for the killing of police officers, trial witnesses and in instances of serial killers or heinous murders of children.

Although under that bill the death penalty would not apply if Smirnov is convicted, state Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-24th, of Hinsdale, said this week’s incident “proves the fallacy of the idea that the death penalty is not a deterrent.”

“I continue, along with Rep. Dennis Reboletti, to push forward legislation to reinstate the death penalty for the worst of the worst in Illinois,” Dillard said Friday morning in a conference call with reporters.

Police and prosecutors say Smirnov shot Vesel multiple times in the head and body about 9 p.m.

Wednesday in the parking lot of an Oak Brook office building, 122 W. 22nd St. Vesel was found about 40 minutes later and pronounced dead at the scene. Smirnov turned himself in to Romeoville police several hours later, and police recovered a 40-caliber gun.

DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said Vesel and Smirnov had met on a dating site and had a brief relationship in 2008, but it had soured.

In 2009, she filed a police report saying Smirnov threatened her, but did not file an order of protection, Berlin said.

In a statement videotaped by police, Smirnov indicated that he researched whether Illinois had a death penalty, Berlin said.

“He was aware that the death penalty had recently been abolished. So he knew then he could go through with his plan,” Berlin said during a Thursday press conference. “Clearly, it’s premeditated.”


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