Did DNA test delay allow suspected killer to strike again?
December 19, 2006 (WLS) -- Could a woman's life have been saved if Chicago police and the state police crime lab worked more quickly to match DNA from a murder scene to a suspect? That's one of the questions being asked after we learned it took more than six weeks for a cable repairman's DNA to be analyzed.
Late Tuesday afternoon, the chief of detectives said her team believed the best chance for solid evidence would come from a fingerprint left on a shower curtain, not DNA from the victim's body. They thought most of it would have washed away in the soapy bathwater.
Detectives ordered a rush on the fingerprint -- not on DNA found on the victim. Prosecutors believe that delay may have given the suspect the opportunity to kill again.
Six weeks separate the murders of Janice Ordidge and Ursula Sakowska. But immediately after police went to Sakowska's home near Midway Airport -- and found her body in the bathtub -- they knew who they were looking for. He was the cable repairman Anthony Triplett -- contracted by Comcast to work in both women's homes on the days they were murdered.
Chicago Police took a DNA swab from Triplett on October 25th, four days after Janice Ordidge was found dead in her Hyde Park high-rise. On November 2 police turned over to the state crime lab DNA evidence found in Ordidge's apartment, but they did not turn over Triplett's DNA for comparison.
Chicago Police claim they asked for a "Priority One" to be put on the case: Meaning the lab should have examined the DNA in three to five days. Without a rush, DNA testing in the state lab can take 30 to 60 days.
So while crime scene evidence sat in the lab -- and Triplett's DNA sat on a Chicago Police shelf -- Anthony Triplett continued making house calls for Comcast.
Among the homes Triplett is said to have visited is one on McVicker Avenue near Midway. On December 8 Ursula Sakowska's body was found. She had been sexually assaulted and strangled, her body submerged in the bathtub.
Four days later, the Crime Lab said it was ready to compare DNA from Janice Ordidge's murder scene -- and the same day police brought over Anthony Triplett's mouth swab.
Janice Ordidge's family tells ABC7, police told them Triplett was considered a possible suspect from practically day one.
Janice's sister Laura Lambert said Tuesday: "It's just tragic to hear (about the delay), especially for the other family. It's just tragic all the way around that this case was not a high priority. It's tragic."
Chicago police brass say this case was a high priority. Their detectives have to make difficult decisions every day as they prioritize evidence to be sent to the state's crime lab which has no shortage of crimes to help solve.
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