Forensic Science Center solves crimes
January 20, 2010 ·
Marshall University’s Forensic Science Center is working with three metropolitan areas testing DNA evidence found at crime scenes.
The work of Marshall University has helped lead to multiple arrests.
Through a National Institute of Justice program Marshall University’s Forensic Science Center has linked with the police departments of Charleston (South Carolina), Miami (Florida) and Huntington (West Virginia). The program is designed to help in the testing of DNA evidence found at property crime sites.
Marshall has been most successful in its work with Charleston, SC, where 100 solved crimes have led to the arrest of 20 people.
Marshall's lab has been successful because their work is quick and accurate, according to Terry Fenger, PH.D director of Marshall University Forensic Science Center.
“Many times individuals who commit these crimes are transient,” said Fenger. “It would be nice to identify these individuals prior to them leaving a geographical area.”
Fenger says there are multiple steps in the evaluation process, from gathering evidence out-of-town to the testing in Huntington.
“If there is a weak link along the way whether it be the testing side or the collection of the evidence then the results wouldn’t be as good, but there isn't” said Fenger.
“The various agencies that we’re dealing with are well versed on how to collect the evidence and what evidence they could collect.”
Fenger says these cases are used as teaching tools for graduate students.
“The students come to Marshall from all over the country realizing we have certain specialties that are unique to Marshall and one of them is having a working lab,” he said. “You can have analysts that do DNA testing for a living coming into the classroom and talking about their real life experiences.”
The program at Marshall has processed 600 samples in the past two years.