Mayor Commits Money To Build DNA Lab - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Mayor Commits Money To Build DNA Lab

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Metro police said they have a DNA match in the "Wooded Rapist" case.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation worked up the DNA profile at its lab in East Nashville.

Now, Mayor Karl Dean wants to spend $1 million to build the Metro Police Department's own DNA lab.

One of Metro's top detectives said a lab would speed up cold case investigations and help lead to arrests in many other types of cases.

A police spokesman said a lab would also let Metro run DNA tests in cases where there is not a suspect -- something the TBI normally does not do.

It takes forensic scientists about two months to process DNA evidence at the TBI crime lab.

That may seem like a long time, but it's a big improvement over several years ago.

"I knew then they needed a lab," said Gail Chilton.
She remembers a long wait when her daughter was stabbed to death at Exotic Tan For Men in downtown Nashville more than 10 years ago.

"When Melissa was first murdered I'd say the first few months I was told at that time that something was sent to a lab for DNA and it was gone for six months or more," she said.

She said the test came back negative, and to this day the murders of Melissa Chilton and Tiffany Campbell remain unsolved.

Now, the Exotic Tan murders are cold cases.

"You know in six months a case can be gone, a killer can be gone," Chilton said.

Cold case detective Pat Postiglione said time is an important factor in any criminal investigation.

Postiglione said if Metro had its own DNA lab it would speed up investigations.

"I think if we keep it, if we have a DNA lab in house, I think it will speed up the process in terms of cold cases," he said. "There are many, many cases with DNA potential."

Chilton is hoping her daughter's murder case will be one of them...

"I want Melissa's killer. I want him to know that we know he's out there and we're still looking for him," she said.

Police said the crime lab is essential, but not everyone is convinced.

Some Metro Council members said it's a waste of money. They said Metro would be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to do something the TBI already does for free.

But police said you can't put a price on justice.

The TBI will speed up a DNA test if the district attorney requests it. Metro put a rush on blood evidence left behind at the Metro Election Commission after someone laptop computers loaded with voter information. A positive DNA match led to an arrest.

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