|Maryland just took another step forward to reduce crime with the announcement that the state’s criminal DNA database has officially recorded 4,000 positive comparisons for evidence found at crime scenes — and with the recent quadruple homicide in Washington D.C. depending so heavily on DNA evidence, the importance of Maryland’s database has never been clearer.
On May 14, a multi-million-dollar mansion in Northwest D.C. was set ablaze, with four people — a couple, their son, and a housekeeper — inside. The couple, Savvas and Amy Savopoulos, were likely held hostage in their own home on the night of May 13 with their 10-year-old son Philip and their housekeeper Veralicia Figueroa, before all four were murdered before the house was set on fire, the Washington Post states.
There was no evidence for investigators who responded to the scene, except for one thing: a crust of pizza, which had been delivered to the house on the night of May 13, which contained DNA evidence. This DNA was matched to Darron Dellon Dennis Wint, a former Maryland resident and the current primary suspect in the case.
New unsealed court documents released on June 11 paint an even more gruesome picture: in one room, detectives found a baseball bat with “what appeared to be blood on it,” CNN states. The blood most likely belongs to one of the victims, but even a fragment of DNA belonging to the person holding the bat could be invaluable — especially if it matches up to Wint’s DNA from the pizza crust.
In this particular case, a DNA database like the one located at the Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division isn’t just a convenient fact-checking asset — it’s absolutely necessary. A big portion of DNA evidence in the house was likely lost in the fire, but an extensive database with a history of positive matches could make a valuable connection that pins down the murderer (or murderers).
The database was created in 1994, according to Southern Maryland News Net, and even though nearly 60% of businesses and organizations today see the value in using cloud-based software to manage large databases, the amount of information that Maryland law enforcement agents can now access is still unprecedented.
DNA information is only recorded in the database after an individual is arrested and charged with certain qualifying violent crimes, but according to the report, there are about 28,000 individual DNA samples currently recorded in the database.
The record-breaking 4,000th match seems to portray the database in a positive light, especially with such a gruesome murder nearby and with investigators relying so much on DNA evidence to find justice for the victims.
But will the database continue to be seen as a valuable asset for the police force in Maryland after this case? Only time will tell.