DNA Testing: Semen Found

The results of preliminary DNA testing in Willie Manning’s Steckler-Miller case were made public yesterday. The results, given in a letter from a Senior Forensic DNA Analyst at the Cellmark Forensics Dallas Lab, are as follows:
Rape kit
Three swabs were tested for semen. One was found to be positive, and the other two were inconclusive. All three will undergo DNA extraction and quantification to determine whether any male DNA is present.
Pubic hair
The pubic hair combings were inconclusive for semen, but the pubic hair was negative for semen. Only the pubic hair combings will undergo DNA extraction and quantification to determine whether any male DNA is present.
Fingernail scrapings (from both hands of both victims)
Preliminary testing established the concentration of human and male DNA present. The samples will all undergo a process to increase the concentration of DNA, then DNA profiling will determine whether any male DNA profile is present that does not originate from the victims.
Hair from victims’ hands
No hairs were present in the evidence marked as “hair in Miller’s right hand” or the evidence marked as “hair in Steckler’s left hand”.

The letter is included in a document that also incorporates an order by the Oktibbeha County Circuit Court about the procedures for fingerprint analysis in Willie’s case. The order states that the Mississippi Crime Lab should work with Ron Smith & Associates, Inc. (MS) to attempt to determine matches for the fingerprints found at the murder scene and on Jon Wise’s burgled car (which the state speculated played a part in a kidnap leading to the murders). The court order states that the fingerprint lifts should be dispatched to the Mississippi Crime Lab for this purpose within 30 days from June 5 2015.

 The Cellmark letter is necessarily cautious about the initial DNA findings: further testing will now be needed. But the presence of semen in one of the rape kit samples seems like a good sign. As the letter notes,
“It is possible we will find male DNA in the [rape kit sample that was positive for semen].”

It is also good that further testing of much of the other evidence is recommended, and that the process of fingerprint matching is at last set to begin.

Willie will be 47 on Friday (June 12); this report will make a good birthday present. We wish him many happy returns for Friday!

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