Forensic scientists at Ohio’s BCI see advances in DNA analysis


LONDON, OH (WOWK)—When a crime happens to a member of your family or one of your neighbors, your local law enforcement agencies rely on evidence to help crack the case and bring those responsible to justice. At Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation, scientists use the latest technology to make the most of DNA evidence. 

“We’ll examine everything from the basic breaking and entering stuff to sexual assault kits all the way up to homicide cases,” said Forensic Scientist Malorie Kulp. Her unit in particular handles the physical evidence. Sexual assault kits make up a large portion of the evidence they process.

“We test for various different body fluids such as blood and semen, those are probably our two most common ones. But we also have the ability to test for saliva, urine and feces. Over the past couple of years we’ve moved further and further away from relying on those tests and relying more and more on DNA analysis,” Kulp said.  

In her section of the lab, they focus specifically on lifting the samples from the physical evidence.

A scientist works in a lab at Ohio’s BCI.

“For example, if you have a pair of underwear you can’t put the whole pair of underwear in a tube and send it on for DNA,” she explained. “So this is kind of where we are assessing the specific parts to send on for DNA analysis.” 

From there the materials head to another section of the lab for a closer look.

“The testing is much more sensitive. We are getting much more useful results on items that might not have worked even 10 years ago,” explained Forensic Scientist Logan Schepeler.

The information they learn from the DNA can then go on to be entered into the Combined DNA Index System or CODIS. CODIS contains digital records of DNA that has been collected.

“Then at the state level we have all of those convicted offenders and arrestees that get compared to those unsolved cases and so we are looking at all of those potential matches and sending them back to the local level to make decisions based on the information they have,” explained Forensic Scientist, Hannah Cox.  

That tool can also help link perpetrators to crimes and link crimes committed by the same person even when that person’s identity is unknown. It is information and collaboration that can help keep your community safe.

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