Gross Evidence Ties Suspect to Burglary

A skilled criminal will take all possible precautions to avoid leaving evidence that links him or her to the crime. Physical evidence that ties a specific person to a crime scene includes fingerprints and DNA evidence. In a burglary, a person will typically wear gloves to avoid fingerprints, and generally, a person can avoid leaving DNA evidence as long as he or she doesn't leave items containing cells or bodily fluid--for example, wearing a hat to keep hair from falling loose and not leaving cigarette butts at the scene.

One Oklahoma City burglary suspect apparently didn't get the memo, and by failing to do something virtually every two-year-old is taught to do, found himself arrested and charged with burglary.

According to local news reports, Charles Williams, 20, was charged with burglary after police say he used the bathroom in the house he is accused of burglarizing--and failed to flush.

On January 23, an Oklahoma City homeowner discovered that his house had been burglarized. Children in the home found the toilet filled with feces and used toilet paper inside. Although they flushed the toilet before police arrived, the paper remained, and a DNA test was conducted on the toilet paper.

The DNA test is complete, and results matched DNA obtained from Williams, a man with prior convictions of second-degree burglary, concealing stolen property, and possession of a controlled dangerous substance. Now, because he allegedly (1) used the bathroom in a house he was burglarizing and (2) did not flush when he was done, he is facing 7 to 20 years in prison if convicted of first degree burglary for a crime he allegedly committed more than 8 months ago.

Collecting DNA evidence is not for the faint of heart. Fishing used toilet paper out of a toilet, collecting blood samples, and scraping semen from the scene are just par for the course. Sometimes, even when this evidence cannot be used right away, it may be stored for decades and used later when the technology becomes available.

Earlier this summer, semen collected from the body of a victim of the Boston Strangler in 1964 was used to link suspected murderer Albert Desalvo to the rapes and killings that took place in Boston in the 1960s. Desalvo confessed to being the Boston Strangler but later recanted and was never convicted of the crimes. He was stabbed to death in prison in 1973 while serving time for unrelated rape convictions. In July, DNA testing confirmed that Desalvo was the Boston strangler.

DNA evidence can certainly be damning in a criminal case, but it is not insurmountable. Oklahoma has had problems in the past with false DNA evidence. Former Oklahoma City Police Department forensic chemist Joyce Gilchrist was fired in 2001 for "flawed casework analysis" after claiming DNA matches in cases that were later disproven by subsequent DNA tests.

If you are accused of a crime and asked to provide a DNA sample, do not submit without a warrant and call an attorney as soon as possible. View site to find out how we can help.