Crime, Police/Fire, Sci-Tech

Maryland’s DNA database records 10,000th total hit

PIKESVILLE, MD—Colonel Woodrow W. Jones III, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police, this week announced the latest milestone for Maryland’s DNA database, supporting its role as a tool for law enforcement in the ongoing effort to reduce crime, apprehend criminals, and exonerate the innocent.

Maryland’s DNA database, housed at the State Police Forensic Sciences Division laboratory, has now recorded 10,000 positive comparisons, or “hits,” as they are commonly referred to. A positive comparison occurs when DNA obtained from a crime victim or scene is matched with either DNA from a known offender sample or DNA from another crime scene. Matches occur using CODIS, the Combined DNA Index System, which enables access to both the Maryland DNA database and the National DNA database.

Last month, scientists at the Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division forwarded information to investigators with Homeland Security Investigations and the Prince George’s County Police Department that the 10,000th positive DNA comparison through the use of Maryland’s DNA database was connected to an open 2020 drug case they are investigating.

The case dates back to June 2020, when law enforcement interdicted a parcel containing a kilogram of fentanyl. During a subsequent search warrant at a location related to the investigation, law enforcement seized additional narcotics and drug distribution materials. During the search, a respirator that contained fentanyl residue was seized and subsequently swabbed for DNA. The DNA profile matched that of a male individual whose DNA was collected and added to the State of Maryland DNA Database after a previous conviction for a drug offense.

Officials say this hit demonstrates how the DNA database plays a crucial role in solving crimes from older unsolved cases as well as from cases that cross jurisdictions and borders. More specific details in this case cannot be made known at this time because the investigation is ongoing and the suspect has not been charged.

Maryland’s DNA database was established by law in 1994 and the first positive comparison occurred in 1998. It was eight years later, in August 2006, when State Police scientists reached the 500th hit. Twenty-three months later, the 1,000th hit was recorded in July 2008. Fifteen months later, in October 2009, another 500 positive comparisons were reached. The 2,000th positive comparison mark was reached in January 2011. The 3,000th positive comparison was made in June of 2013. The 4,000th positive comparison occurred in May 2015. The 5,000th positive comparison was made in September 2016. The 6,000th positive comparison was made in January 2018. The 7,000th positive comparison was made in April 2019, followed the 8,000th in July 2020 and the 9000th in July 2021.

As of October 2022, there were 141,572 Maryland convicted offender DNA profiles in CODIS. Current Maryland law requires all persons convicted of a felony, fourth degree burglary, or breaking/entering of a motor vehicle to submit a DNA sample that becomes part of the DNA database.

On January 1, 2009, legislation took effect that requires those arrested and charged with qualifying violent crimes, or 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree burglaries and attempts to commit those crimes, to submit a DNA sample. These type of samples are called “arrestee samples” and hits to these samples are referred to as “arrestee hits.” As of October 2022, there were 51,599 DNA profiles from arrestee samples in the Maryland DNA database. In addition to recording the 10,000th total hit, Maryland’s DNA database has now recorded 1,480 arrestee hits.

The success of the statewide DNA database is due to the diligent efforts and cooperation of many individuals. They include the personnel of the Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division and those in local police DNA laboratories, as well as the cooperative collection efforts by the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth and Victim Services, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, sheriff’s offices and detention centers across the state, and Maryland’s district and circuit court systems.

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