DNA of alleged Ohio serial killer went missing

AP News
Posted: May 17, 2011 7:55 PM
DNA of alleged Ohio serial killer went missing

A prison DNA sample taken more than a decade ago from a man charged with the killing of 11 women and dumping their bodies around his property disappeared and was never entered into national law enforcement databases, a newspaper reported

The sample taken from Anthony Sowell when he was in prison in the 1990s was sent in an envelope addressed to a private lab in Virginia but was never returned to the state, Eve Mueller, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Mike DeWine, told the Plain Dealer of Cleveland for a story Tuesday.

The paper reported that state officials don't know where that sample is.

"I don't know if it got lost in the mail or if it got lost in the Virginia lab," Mueller said. "Nobody knows what happened to it after that."

At the time the sample was taken, Sowell was in prison serving a 15-year sentence for attempted rape.

Prosecutors preparing for Sowell's trial next month say DNA from a previously untested rape kit matches the defendant.

The Plain Dealer reported last week that prosecutors may call as a witness the woman who told police she was raped in April 2009 in Cleveland Heights.

The alleged rape occurred before five of the 11 alleged murder victims disappeared. The Cleveland police department's handling of sexual assault cases has been under review.

A judge on Tuesday rejected a renewed defense request to move or delay Sowell's trial.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Dick Ambrose ruled Tuesday after meeting with attorneys in the case.

The defense says what it calls "inflammatory, saturating and prejudicial" news coverage make it impossible for Sowell to get a fair trial in Cleveland.

The defense asked to delay the trial as an alternative to moving it.

Assistant Prosecutor Richard Bombik said both sides must try to select an impartial jury before moving the trial is contemplated.

Sowell, who has pleaded not guilty, could face the death penalty if convicted.

The state's contract with Virginia-based Fairfax Identity Labs ended in 2006.

Officials from Commonwealth Biotechnologies Inc., which owns the Fairfax lab, did not return calls or emails from the newspaper Tuesday. A message was left after hours by The Associated Press seeking comment.

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