DNA Database Helps Clear Two "Cold" Homicide Cases
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- DNA evidence has linked two prison inmates to unrelated Wichita killings.
Prosecutors credited a nationwide DNA database with allowing them to file first-degree murder charges Friday against Ray F. Garcia and Paul D. Drayton, who is serving time in Texas.
Garcia, who is serving time for kidnapping and rape at the El Dorado Correctional Facility, is accused in the November 1995 death of Phylis Eldridge, 73. Prosecutors say Garcia, 34, killed the woman after blindfolding and raping her in her home.
Drayton is accused in the May 2002, stabbing death of James Mayberry, 57, in his home. Drayton, 34, is in a Dallas jail for robbery.
"This is a very exciting time in law enforcement," District Attorney Nola Foulston said. "Years ago, we didn't have these kinds of tools."
Foulston said DNA profiles were prepared based on evidence found at the scenes of the crimes. The profiles were sent to the FBI where they were entered into a database that contains offender profiles, most of which were taken from inmates entering prison, and profiles of evidence gathered at other crime scenes.
Police Lt. Ken Landwehr said investigators were notified of the computer matches last summer. The DNA of both suspects was retested, he said, and detectives began re-interviewing witnesses as they put their cases together.
The FBI database has helped Wichita authorities solve one other homicide. In the first case, the system led detectives to Douglas Belt, who is charged with capital murder in the death of Lucille Gallegos, whose decapitated body was found in a west Wichita apartment in June 2002. Belt also is charged with several rapes in Kansas and Illinois.
"It's very, very powerful," said Tim Rohrig, director of the forensic science center. "I think we're going to continue to see more" cases.