Illinois ranked last in solving murders; Massive crime lab backlog a factor

CHICAGO -- Mothers who lost children to violence were part of hearing Monday to determine why it takes so long to solve murders in Illinois.

Lawmakers gathered in Chicago to hear testimony from families and experts.

Illinois is ranked the worst in the nation when it comes to solving homicides.

“We have this backlog of DNA evidence that could potentially identify 750 murderers in the Chicagoland area,” Sen. Patricia Van Pelt said. “This is something that shouldn't have happened.  We shouldn't have this backlog.”

In Chicago alone, 752 murder cases are awaiting DNA analysis.

Lt. Colonel Sean Cormiere, with the Division of Forensic Sciences, said the problem started in 2010, when a new law was passed that requires quicker processing of DNA for sexual assault cases.

“We're absolutely not satisfied,” he said.  "And we're working every day to improve this.”

The advancement of technology is also slowing the process down.  There is a new federal requirement to screen for more identifying points on DNA evidence as well.

Colonel Cormiere said staffing is also an issue and feels they need an additional 11 forensic scientists to make a dent in the backlog.

“This is a very important issue for all of the state of Illinois,” Van Pelt said.  “When we address this issue, we will improve public safety which is a major concern of all the residents in this state.”

Sen. Van Pelt said she plans to hold another hearing to further discuss this issue.

 

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