In case you think that “lost” evidence can’t miraculously turn up elsewhere, take a few minutes to read the following news stories.
Belmont County Cold Case File Heats Up
November 12, 2007
Story by D.K. WrightWTRF-TV, Wheeling, W.Va.
A man left home one evening, joking to his family that he had a hot date. He was never seen again.
It happened 25 years ago in Belmont County, Ohio.
Now this cold case is heating up.
The case file on the Leon Moncer disappearance was lost years ago during a previous sheriff's administration.
But after an intensive search of a storage building, the file was found last week.
Murder trial told of 'lucky' swab find that reopened case
John Robertson, The Scotsman
A DETECTIVE told a jury yesterday of an "incredibly lucky" find during a cold-case review of a 1980 murder.
Ian Kennedy had been checking to see whether evidence gathered at the time of Elizabeth McCabe's death was still in storage and discovered that a swab had gone missing. However, it was traced after a chance conversation with a colleague and later sent for DNA testing at a specialist laboratory in England…
Mr Kennedy said he learned that the productions from the McCabe and the Lannen cases were stored in boxes in a room in the cells area at police headquarters in Dundee.
He said items found to be missing included Ms McCabe's pants and tights… Another item was an intimate swab taken from her body at the post-mortem examination.
Referring to a swab shown to him in court, Mr Kennedy said: "In a chance conversation with a colleague, he recalled putting them [swabs] in a large cabinet and myself and another member of staff went down there and, by sheer fortune, the second folder we took out contained this. It was incredibly lucky."
Detailed evidence search is called for in DNA-linked appeal,
judges rule exhaustive effort must be made before declaring it lost
By Alia Malik
Baltimore Sun reporter
August 2, 2007
Maryland's highest court yesterday demanded that police and prosecutors conduct thorough searches before declaring trial evidence to be permanently missing - checking storage rooms, offices and even judges' chambers if necessary.
Potential problems found in police storage of drugs
By Suzanne Smalley and Tracy Jan,
Boston Globe October 8, 2006
Some of the drugs seized by Boston police are not where they should be in the department's central drug depository, where evidence such as cocaine, OxyContin and marijuana is stored, the acting police commissioner, Albert Goslin, said yesterday.
The disarray of the drug depository, discovered during a police audit, has prompted concern among officials, but Goslin said it's too early to determine whether evidence is missing, because the audit is not complete. He did not indicate the amount or types of drugs that have not been found.
Goslin said the disorganization in the drug warehouse concerns him because of the possibility that drug evidence could be missing, but at this point, nothing points to police corruption. ``It's a lot of stuff and a major burden on us," he said. ``It's contraband. It's illegal. If the audit doesn't go the way it should go, then we'll look into it."
Three officers have spent the past six weeks combing through drug evidence from 190,000 cases, some dating back more than 20 years, because the department is modernizing the tightly controlled facility, Goslin said. The department wants to find an easier way to track the evidence; officers are moving the drugs to a different part of the building.
Some evidence that auditors had initially thought was missing was found elsewhere in the Hyde Park depository. ``They'd find things that were supposed to be in one place and would be three bins over," Goslin said. ``It's a huge nightmare and problem . . . I haven't found stuff missing but at this point, I can't say."
The site of the evidence and where the drugs were supposed to be according to a log book sometimes do not match, Goslin said.
According to Boston Police Department rules, drugs, upon seizure, are temporarily stored in a safe at the district station before going to a central drug depository
Missing evidence found in 1996 murder case
By Natalie Morales
Dayton Daily News
February 06, 2007
Clark County (Ohio) Clerk of Courts Ron Vincent almost didn't believe staff members who told him they found the missing evidence from the 1996 murder case of death row inmate Timothy Coleman.
A federal judge granted a September request by Coleman's attorney, Kelly Culshaw, to have independent DNA testing done on some evidence.
Murder victim Melinda Stevens' shorts and underwear were requested from the local clerk's office. Friday, Vincent said all of the woman's clothing was missing from the evidence box.
The clerk's plans to continue "digging around" for the missing clothing worked out Monday when staffers found a bag containing the clothes on the opposite side of the room from the evidence box, Vincent said.
Vincent attributed the misplaced items to the commotion in the office during an Aug. 22 flood that started in the courthouse's third-floor law library and drained into the second-floor clerk's office.
"Evidently it got pulled out of the box when things were being moved around," Vincent said.
Monday, Vincent said he was relieved to have found the clothing and he notified the state attorney general's office, the public defender's office and Culshaw.
New Evidence Furor Hits HPD
Mislabeled boxes may be final straw for full-scale probe
By Roma Khanna
August 27, 2004
The Houston Police Department has discovered evidence from thousands of cases that was improperly tagged and lost in its property room, Chief Harold Hurtt said Thursday, suggesting that problems with handling evidence may go back 25 years.
The evidence was contained in 280 mislabeled boxes that were found in the department's property room last August. But the boxes sat unopened for a year, even as an ongoing Harris County District Attorney's Office effort to retest DNA from 379 cases stalled because of missing evidence in 20 cases.
Investigators began opening the boxes last week and found an array of evidence that ranged from a fetus and human body parts to clothes and a bag of Cheetos.
The boxes were labeled with the numbers of individual cases. Now, HPD officials said, it appears that evidence from as many as 8,000 cases, from 1979 to 1991, was packed into the 280 cartons.
The discovery of the forgotten boxes of evidence comes as questions about the analysis in a 1987 rape case have widened doubts about the quality of the crime lab's work.