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DNA Testing Partnership Leads to Cold Case Indictment

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Clark Davis
/
WV Public Broadcasting

A new partnership between local police and the Marshall University Forensic Science Center is already paying dividends.

Cabell County Prosecutor Sean “Corky” Hammers announced Wednesday that Oswald Gibson has been charged with second-degree sexual assault and kidnapping. Police say the attack occurred June 17th, 2004. The announcement of the indictment came during a press conference involving Huntington police, West Virginia state police and the Marshall University Forensic Science Center. It’s a partnership that has the forensic science center testing rape kits and checking DNA against the Combined DNA Index System or CODIS. They’re kits from the late 90s and early 2000s that were collected before CODIS existed. Hammers said the new arrangement could be huge in cracking cold cases.

Victims of these terrible crimes such as rape and sexual assault a lot of times cannot identify their assailant because they’re committed at a place or time where it was impossible to make an identification so all we have is a rape kit, which typically has a DNA profile in it. -- Cabell County Prosecutor, Sean Hammers

By checking the DNA against CODIS, police can see if there is a match in the system and identify criminals. That’s how Hammers and Huntington Police were able to identify Oswald, and re-open a 2004 cold case.


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