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04/15/2005 Archived Entry: "Truro DNA sweep and the arrest of a murder suspect"

REMEMBER THE DNA SWEEP POLICE PERFORMED a few months ago in Truro, Massachusetts? They said they were seeking the murderer of Christa Worthington, a New York fashion writer stabbed to death in her seaside home. So every, single man in town was to become a criminal suspect.

Well, they've arrested somebody for the murder.

But what the above article doesn't mention is that the recent DNA sweep had nothing to do with it. The local media reports that police have had this man's DNA for nearly three years but just didn't match it with crime-scene DNA until now. They also knew, or had reason to know, that the man had both a long criminal record and a connection to Worthington's home (he picked up trash there).

EDIT: Another article says that Christopher McCowan, the arrested man, became a suspect as early as April 2002, but that police didn't take his DNA sample until March 2004. (It's unclear why they didn't match it to the sample from the crime scene until now.) Either way, police had everything they needed to catch this man before they set about to invade the privacy and the fourth and fifth-amendment rights of every male in Truro.

So what was all this BS about turning every innocent local man into a rape suspect? And what will they do with all those DNA samples now? And how much money did they waste because they thought a high-tech random dragnet was better than a real investigation? And how many women were put at risk while police were chasing harmless guys instead of looking for the person who had motive, opportunity, and DNA to commit the crime?

MORE: According to the New York Times, the suspect gave permission in 2002 to have his DNA taken. But Truro law-enforcement officials waited two more years before taking the sample.

MORE: Then one reason it took over a year to process the DNA sample was that random sweeps and new laws requiring more and more criminals (even non-violent ones) to contribute DNA to databases are completely overwhelming laboratories and therefore hindering processing of samples from known violent suspects like McCowan.

(Thanks to both Richard M. Smith (especially) and J.D. Abolins for thoughts and links.)

Posted by Claire @ 10:14 AM CST

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