DNA law solves more than 4,000 Mo. cold cases - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

DNA law solves more than 4,000 Mo. cold cases

CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - Missouri prosecutors call a law, expanded in 2009, "fantastic" now that the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime lab reports that law has helped solved 4,396 cases.

"These are cases that would not have been solved otherwise," said Cape County prosecuting attorney, Morley Swingle.

The law was first passed in 1991 and applied only to collecting the DNA of violent and sexual offenders. In 1996 it was modified to include felons in prison and on parole or probation.

In 2004, it was expanded to include defendants convicted of felonies or misdemeanor sexual offenses.

In 2009, lawmakers expanded Missouri's DNA tracking law to require anyone arrested for a felony or misdemeanor sex offense to be put into the state's CODIS system. That system links DNA collected from crime scenes with criminals on file. It's a change that's impacted several cases in Cape Girardeau County.

Dorthy Allen was the victim in one of three rape cases where the law made a difference in Cape County. Allen was 58 years old when she describes her body was brutally invaded by a rapist.

She shared her story of survival, and relief now that the man who caused her so much pain is behind bars.

The attack happened in March of 2004. Allen was walking on South Frederick Street.

"It was so quick when he came at me," recalled Allen.

She says she couldn't see the man's face and tried to walk away.  She says that's when he attacked.

"He knocked me out, drug me across the street, and beat me," said Allen.

Allen says the man raped her and beat her so severely she was left unconscious on the ground. Her knees and ankles were bruised, and her jaw broken. Her underwear and shoes were pulled completely off.

"He laid me down and picked me up and throwed me," said Allen. "He told me to shut up."

Allen remembers pleading for her life. She says she managed to walk home and then called police immediately. Doctors examined her and took DNA samples. For several years the crime went unsolved until finally in 2007 police got a break in the case.

Thanks to expanded laws for DNA collection of criminals, investigators were able to match DNA from the crime scene for Samuel Taylor. Taylor was already behind bars for an unrelated felony.

"In his case his felony was not paying child support," said Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle. "He would not have been in there long but his DNA was taken because of this felony conviction and bingo it ends up proving he's a forcible rapist."

Taylor is now serving a 25 year sentence.

Taylor isn't the only one. Ontario Reed is serving two consecutive life sentences for forcible rape and sodomy committed in 2001. The law helped put him away for that crime after he was already in for robbery. Meanwhile, cases against alleged rapist Charles O'Howell and Kevin Allbritton, suspected of burglary are pending.

"When we contact the victims they've always been hugely relieved," said Swingle.

As for Dorthy Allen, she says knowing Taylor is behind bars has helped her move on.

"I pray to the Lord everyday," said Allen.

More cases could be solved soon. More DNA samples in Cape County and others are in the process of being analyzed and put up against more than 250,000 felons currently in the system. 

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