Produced by DPS Public Information, (512) 424-2080
DPS lab matches DNA evidence
Using DNA technology, the DPS Crime Lab has matched biological evidence from two unsolved 1993 sexual assaults with a suspect already in jail for an unrelated sexual assault. This marks the first time in Texas history that a totally unknown individual has been identified as a criminal suspect solely on the basis of DNA evidence.
Since 1996, offenders incarcerated or convicted in Texas of sex-related offenses have been required to give blood samples for DNA profiling and inclusion in the state's CODIS database. CODIS stands for Combined DNA Index System. It is a DNA profile repository that law enforcement investigators throughout Texas and the nation use to help solve sex crimes, particularly those committed by repeat offenders.
Early in 1998, the DPS CODIS lab had enough samples in the system to begin searching for matches between unsolved crimes and known offenders. Two young Granbury, Texas, sisters were sexually assaulted while playing in a dry creek bed and culvert in July 1993. Although the Granbury Police Department followed a number of leads, they had no breaks in the case until the CODIS "cold hit" in late May 1998. A cold hit occurs when someone not previously linked to a case is identified solely through a CODIS search.
The DPS CODIS Lab compared biological evidence left at the scene of the Granbury sexual assault with the more than 7,500 samples currently in the Texas CODIS database.
The DPS found the match and Granbury detectives got a search warrant to collect additional blood from the suspect. The new sample was tested by the Fort Worth Police Department Crime Lab, which then compared those DNA results with the DNA in the evidence. Both again matched.
"There is no way we would ever have solved this case without CODIS," said Detective Bruce Espin of the Granbury Police Department.
Staff psychologist joins DPS
Dr. Fran Belmont has joined the DPS as staff psychologist at Headquarters in Austin.
Belmont is a licensed psychologist and a licensed marriage and family counselor. "I can assist or refer DPS employees with any kind of stress they need assistance with," Belmont said. "And employees do not need to go through the chain of command to receive these services."
She can be reached at 512-424-5251.
Dear Fellow Employee:
What a month we've had!
First, Tropical Storm Charley brought flooding of historic proportions to the Rio Grande, devastating a major portion of Del Rio. Nine persons died in that flood, with six persons still missing. The DPS--from Troopers to Emergency Management personnel--put in many long, muddy, humid and insect-infested hours in its response to this disaster. As usual, the people of Texas were reminded once again of the value of this agency when things get rough.
Agency employees were still resting up from Charley when Tropical Storm Frances brought more trouble, particularly in the Houston area and Southeast Texas.
In addition to natural disasters, the agency made Texas law enforcement history twice last month. The first instance was the first-ever "cold hit" of a sexual offender through our CODIS program (see story on this page). The second historic event was the arrest of a suspect in a 14-year-old Austin homicide, a break made possible by the Department's new STR (Short Tandem Repeat) equipment, which enables our Crime Lab to test minute and degraded biological evidence to determine a DNA profile.
Finally, our budget request to the upcoming session of the Legislature has been approved by the Public Safety Commission and submitted to the Legislative Budget Board. Response so far from the Governor's Office and LBB has been favorable. Obviously, a key aspect of this proposed budget is money for salary increases. I'll keep you posted on the progress we make.
-- Col. Dudley M. Thomas
In crashes where seat belt usage applied and could be determined, 54 percent of those killed were not wearing their safety belts.
FBI National Academy
State Charitable Campaign
Breast Cancer Awareness
Donations to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation are being accepted for the fight against breast cancer. Call Cindy Floyd at 512-424-2601 for more information. Those who donate will receive a pink ribbon and are asked to wear denim on Breast Cancer Awareness Day Friday, Oct. 9.
Computer Class for Managers
Blood Drive in Garland
Ranger Sgt. Fred Cummings, Lampasas, was awarded a Medal of Merit for his tireless initiative in creating several timesaving, innovative computer programs. Cummings' efforts have allowed DPS and Lampasas Sheriff's personnel to greatly reduce report preparation time, facilitating a quicker return to law enforcement duties. These ongoing computerization efforts continue to streamline and improve the Texas Ranger Reporting System.
Sgt./Investigators Bill Cooper, Mike Ditto and Jimmy Towe, MVT Hurst, were each honored with Director's Citations for helping break up a multi-state, international theft ring - the biggest case of its kind in DPS history. The investigation led to the recovery of more than $3.2 million in stolen vehicles and equipment. The initial raid at a Hood County ranch was followed by the recovery of stolen property in Johnson and Tarrant counties, as well as Arkansas, North Dakota and Minnesota. In addition, the theft ring also had ties to criminals in Costa Rica. Property recovered ranged from earth-moving equipment to jet skis.
Sgt. Thomas Rosales, Narcotics McAllen, received a Director's Citation for seven cases involving drug smuggling across the Rio Grande. His investigations led to the seizure of $37.5 million in illegal drugs. In all, 3,384 pounds of cocaine, 1,927 pounds of marijuana and 12 vehicles were seized. The investigations also led to 13 arrests.
Paul Jordan, Special Crimes Austin, received a Director's Citation for his administration of the Texas Sex Offender Registration Program since its inception in 1991. With no additional funding at his disposal, Jordan set about creating, coordinating and administering the first set of Texas laws requiring sex offenders to register with local law enforcement agencies. As of August 1997, 18,000 sex offenders had been registered in the database.
A tragic Lee County crash could have been even worse if not for the efforts of Tim Proper and Andy Hart of Giddings. Both men received Director's Awards for their quick, unselfish actions that saved the lives of two women. A traffic collision had knocked a van into a stock pond, and Proper and Hart dived repeatedly into the cold, murky water to save the victims from certain death. Five other women trapped in the submerged van died. Proper and Hart were nominated by Tr. Bruce Oppermann, HP Giddings.
Saul G. Meza of San Antonio received a Director's Award for a valiant but unsuccessful effort to save a man from a burning vehicle. Meza, a train conductor, saw a pick-up truck crash into a railroad bridge and burst into flames in Frio County. He suffered burns to his face, hands and arms and smoke inhalation as he tried in vain to extract the victim from the burning truck. Meza had to be hospitalized overnight because of his injuries. He was nominated by Sgt. Charles Haight, HP Pearsall.
Crime Lab uses new technology to assist in solving old murder case
The testing which led to the break announced Sept. 16 in the 1984 homicide of Lauren McCarty in Austin was done by the Department of Public Safety Crime Lab, utilizing a new technique called Short Tandem Repeat (STR).
This new technique, which the DPS just began using in September, allows DNA analysts to profile samples that are minute and degraded. In the past, older biological samples were not sufficient to yield DNA profiles.
With a $780,000 federal grant and additional state funding, the DPS was able to purchase 10 genetic analyzers - machines specifically designed to handle minute and degraded biological evidence. The DPS Headquarters has three of the machines, with the others located in DPS field laboratories in Garland, Lubbock, Houston, Waco, El Paso, McAllen and Corpus Christi.
"This is the first laboratory report in a homicide case leading to an arrest since we implemented this new STR technology," said Pat Johnson, DPS Field Crime Lab Manager. "We'd like to encourage any other Texas law enforcement agencies with unsolved cases where there is older biological evidence to revisit their cases for submission or resubmission to the DPS."
The DPS has been saving biological evidence submissions from unsolved cases for years and will be testing this old evidence with the new equipment in the hope of coming up with findings that would support arrests in those cases. Cases dating back to the 1970s will be examined, Johnson said.
Officers can purchase old weapons
With the exchange of DPS-issue 9mm and .45 caliber Sig Sauer pistols for the new .357 Sig Sauer now complete, the Department has a mixture of 300 of the old weapons available for sale.
Any actively employed commissioned DPS officer interested in buying one of the pistols needs to fill out a form that will be distributed, along with more detailed information, through the major division chiefs. (For complete information on the entire process contact your supervisor.)
Properly completed forms, plus a check for the purchase price of $375 must be received by General Stores no later than October 26. The drawing will be on October 29.
Checks submitted by officers whose names are not drawn will be returned.
Texas Ranger Promotions