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Washington State News

Attorney General’s Office Completes Project to Collect Lawfully Owed DNA From Registered Sex Offenders

OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today announced that his office completed its project to collect DNA samples from registered sex offenders in Washington who are legally required to provide their DNA but from whom a sample has never been collected or submitted to a lab for testing. This phase of the project resulted in 372 new DNA profiles entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), a nationwide database.

Eight out of the 372 newly entered sex offender DNA profiles resulted in a “hit,” meaning the offender’s profile matched DNA evidence already in the database.

  • Three unsolved sex offenses in Washington are being reviewed as a result of these CODIS “hits.”
  • Two of the hits were confirmatory: either the offender was already convicted, or already a confirmed suspect.
  • Three hits are from out-of-state offenses. Law enforcement in those states will be notified of the new hit.

The office has now moved on to the next phase of the project: collecting samples from offenders of all other types of violent crimes. Ferguson’s office is working with local law enforcement around the state to collect lawfully owed DNA samples.

“Out of respect for survivors and their experience, this work must be done,” Ferguson said. “This project is bringing justice to survivors of assault, rape and other violent crimes. The more cold cases that are solved, the safer our communities will be.”

Lawfully owed DNA is defined as a DNA sample from a qualifying criminal offender who should have their sample in CODIS, but from whom a sample has never been collected or submitted to a lab for testing. Washington law requires all offenders convicted of a felony, certain gross misdemeanors and all currently registered sex and kidnapping offenders to provide a DNA sample. Some fail to comply with this part of their sentence. The Attorney General’s lawfully owed DNA project aims to identify and collect these legally required samples.

At the beginning of the project, it was unknown how many sex offenders in Washington had failed to provide a DNA sample as required by law. The Attorney General’s Office identified 635 registered sex offenders who owed a DNA sample in Washington. Law enforcement agencies determined that, of those 635 offenders, 257 could not provide samples because they’re no longer alive, no longer living in the state, incarcerated in another state, deported or a variety of other reasons.

Law enforcement have not yet reached the remaining six offenders, including one offender in Clark County, three in Snohomish County and two in Columbia County. The Attorney General’s Office contacted local law enforcement asking if they could reach these remaining offenders. Clark and Snohomish counties both were able to obtain samples from most of the dozens of offenders who still owe DNA in their jurisdictions, and reported to the Attorney General’s Office that they could not reach the remaining few. The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office has not yet responded about the remaining offenders.