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Backlog of DNA requests slows police investigations

by Tom Chillemi

DNA evidence can link suspects to crimes, even with the smallest shred of evidence.

However, there is a backlog to process DNA evidence at the state lab, Middlesex Sheriff David P. Bushey told a group of about 12 citizens during an informational meeting on March 4 in Urbanna.

Sheriff Bushey said the state has invested in a new lab, but has trouble finding scientists to process the mounting evidence.

In fact, the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office (MSO) can only send three items of DNA evidence to the state lab at a time, said Sheriff Bushey, and there is a one-year turn around by the lab.

DNA evidence has been sent to the state lab from the murder scene of Peggy Lammers, who was killed in her family’s weekend home in July 2017. Investigators found DNA at the scene that was from someone other than Lammers, who was 61 at the time of her death.

Due to the backlog at the state lab, Middlesex Sheriff’s Office sent DNA evidence to a private lab in Florida.

Investigators remain tightlipped about Lammers’ murder since the investigation is ongoing. However Sheriff Bushey said there is more DNA evidence that needs to be processed.

Sheriff Bushey said police must be very careful about releasing information regarding a crime because it can jeopardize the case. However, if there is a threat to the public, the public would be notified.

Citizen input and information can help solve a crime. However, citizens are sometimes reluctant to come forward and share information with police. Sheriff Bushey said investigators often need citizens’ help and can meet with them discreetly, if need be. 

A few years ago, Sheriff Bushey was chosen to attend the FBI Academy. Through that schooling he has made numerous contacts at the federal level, he explained.

When there was a gang-related murder in upper Middlesex a few years ago, six FBI agents responded to investigate.

Read the rest of this story in this week’s Southside Sentinel at newsstands throughout the county, or sign up here to receive a print and/or electronic pdf subscription.

posted 03.11.2019

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