Inside Michigan State Police Biometrics and Identification Division: Combined DNA Index System

Posted at 9:04 PM, Oct 03, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-03 22:23:32-04

LANSING, Mich.- The men and women from the Michigan State Police's Biometrics and Identification Division specialize in a wide variety of high-tech fields, from audio and video analysis to forensic art and unidentified remains.

FOX 17 was allowed into a laboratory few see in person, the state's Combined DNA Index System known as CODIS.

It's this system that allows the Michigan State Police to process tens of thousands of DNA samples each year.

From cold case investigations to top priority violent crimes, it's the matches this database can provide to help solve the unsolved.

“We’re able to search a profile against a crime scene sample, hopefully we can get a DNA match from somebody who has supplied a reference known,” Scott Bruski the State CODIS Administrator said.

Like in the murder of Michigan State University student and Middleville Native Dominique Nolff, where DNA evidence led police to Marquay McCoy, a felon whose DNA is in the CODIS system.

He`s now facing several charges, including open murder.

“That DNA profile is then imported into the DNA index system, the CODIS database where our profiles we generate are searched against the profiles that were generated from the crime scene sample,” Bruski said.

CODIS led investigators to Nathaniel Pembrook who was charged in the April armed robbery of Medawar Jewelers. Blood from the scene was processed in the MSP lab, leading police to the 42-year-old Philadelphia man.

In 2011, Governor Snyder approved a law requiring all prisoners to provide a DNA sample within three months of their incarceration.

“So MDOC went in and did a big sweep of everybody and we got 6,000 samples over a month and a half,” Bruski said.

When someone is convicted of a felony or arrested for a violent felony they are obligated to provide a DNA sample for CODIS.

The lab has already begun processing some of the nearly 11,000 sexual assault kits, some dating back to the 1980s, which were found abandoned in a Detroit storage facility in 2009.

So far, about 2,000 rape kits have been processed, resulting in the identification of 100 serial rapists and 10 convicted rapists.

“The profile that gets entered into the database is just a series of numbers, each person has their own combination of numbers,” Bruski said.

The lab runs and compares new evidence samples from around the state with CODIS profiles once a week along with the FBI’s similar system, leading police to suspects as well as identifying bodies.

The lab processes 18,000 to 22,000 profiles each year.