Friday, February 22, 2008

CSI Daytona: Cops Using DNA Testing to Hunt a Serial Killer

In Daytona Beach, FL, police are using high-tech in their quest to stop a serial killer before he strikes again. They're collecting DNA samples on the scene during prostitution stings and from "persons of interest" found during traffic stops.

A special task force hit the streets in January. Police Chief Mike Chitwood and profilers have warned that "no woman" is safe even though those killed so far have been connected to prostitution, drug use, or a borderline existence.

Authorities say that the killer, who may also be linked to a murder in nearby Sanford, FL, will appear normal, seem trustworthy, and probably is married or in a relationship. They caution that his ability to blend in, like that of Ted Bundy, is a mask for a monster.

Bundy, whose killings began in 1974 in Washington State, was executed in Florida in 1989. After escaping from prison in the Northwest, Bundy killed two students and battered tow more during a bloody rampage at a Florida State University sorority house in 1978.

A few weeks later, he kidnapped and killed 12-year-old Kimberly Leach in rural Lake City, FL. Bundy confessed to more than two dozen killings, and police across several states believe that there were more victims, possibly up to a hundred. Experts say that Bundy's first kill may have occurred when he was 15 years old..

Ironically, Bundy's last arrest was during a traffic stop--as was his first arrest. In gathering DNA samples gathered during traffic stops, Daytona police are effectively using one of the most common ways in which criminals get caught. Known to be one of the most dangerous things a police officer does, traffic stops routinely yield felons, those fleeing warrants, drug users, and other wanted persons. The DNA will be compared to samples from the killer's prior murders.

Police also are going cyber in their manhunt. They're checking blogs and discussion boards, and recently subpoenaed The Daytona Beach News-Journal to gain information on a person who'd posted several comments of interest.

Four women have been killed execution-style since 2005. They range in age from 30 to 45, and include one black and three white victims.

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