Donations help ease DNA backlog in the search for Brianna Denison
RENO – Law officers investigating the suspected kidnapping of a young woman in Reno say there has been a big response to their appeal for private donations to speed up the processing of DNA samples from convicted offenders.
As of Wednesday, the Washoe County Crime Laboratory had received more than $70,000 of the $150,000 needed to eliminate a backlog of about 3,000 samples yet to be processed.
Another $93,000 has been pledged but not yet received, sheriff’s officials said.
Local official said a new state law requires the samples but provided no money for processing.
The samples would be entered into state and national DNA databases, which could provide a link to the man who abducted Brianna Denison, 19, on Jan. 20, said Washoe County Sheriff Mike Haley.
It’s possible that eliminating the backlog also could result in other murders, rapes, robberies and cold cases being solved, he said.
Authorities say the man who apparently abducted Denison has been linked by DNA to at least two other sexually motivated attacks against University of Nevada, Reno, students within blocks of where Denison was kidnapped. That DNA has not matched any stored in the state and national databases.
Monday’s plea for donations was a result of area business leaders and private residents approaching Haley about how they could help with the Denison investigation, he said.
County Manager Katy Singlaub said when the sheriff’s $3.7 million budget for the crime lab was being finalized in February and March of last year, the Legislature had not passed the mandate that all felons and those convicted of sex crimes submit their DNA. She said commissioners did increase the crime lab’s budget by $120,000 for increased demands such as chemical fees.
Singlaub said if voters had approved a ballot measure in 2006 to raise sales taxes and use the money for public safety, there would have been more money for the sheriff’s budget of about $70 million.
Deputy Brooke Keast, sheriff’s office spokeswoman, said when $150,000 is raised, further donations will be used to eliminate the next round of convicted offender samples to be entered into the databases.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s crime lab and the Bode Technology Group in Virginia will process the backlog and have said it will take them about one month to turn the samples around.
Reno police said they were continuing to run down leads in the Denison case.
About 70 tips were generated from a segment Saturday night on the television show “America’s Most Wanted.” Civilian volunteers continue to search the region for evidence in the Denison case.
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