Computer glitch delayed ID of suspected rapist
DENVER – A DNA computer glitch kept investigators from linking a convicted child molester to a sexual assault at least two months before he went on alleged rape spree in Denver, authorities say.Dave Fisher, who oversees Denver Police Department investigations, said Sunday that “bad timing” and computer problems caused the problem.Brent Brents, 35, is suspected of sexually assaulting at least five women and girls this month in Denver. He also is suspected of raping a woman in October, according to a federal arrest warrant.Brents was arrested late Friday in Glenwood Springs, about 150 miles west of Denver.The computer problems are linked to the October case. According to an arrest affidavit, a 25-year-old woman told investigators she was attacked by a knife-wielding man. Police were able to obtain semen samples at a hospital later that night.The Denver crime lab compared the samples with the state database and was able to link the rape to Brents – but not until Feb. 16, after the recent attacks, police said.Department records show 10 samples from the October assault were first submitted to the Denver lab on Oct. 27. Analysts began extracting the DNA information 10 business days later.Capt. Steve Allison, who heads the lab, said that sort of delay is not unusual. “Unless we prioritize them over a particular issue, they wait their turn,” Allison said.The profile was confirmed Dec. 13 and a technician a day later attempted to forward the results to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.Police expected CBI to compare the sample to the state database and pass it along to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Combined DNA Indexing System, which includes profiles from across the country.Police said Monday the problem happened when the contractor responsible for handling the FBI and CBI data left out Brents’ sample when it transfered data to a new computer server Dec. 14. Police were told by the contractor it has new quality control measures in place to prevent the glitch from ever happening again.Police discovered the computer glitch last week as they investigated the recent assaults.The sample should have been checked again weekly in case new data were entered, which could have allowed police to discover the glitch weeks ago. Denver police never heard back from CBI, so they assumed there was no match, Allison said.Pete Mang, deputy director of CBI, said local agencies also have access to the state database, which includes information about 37,000 offenders with known DNA profiles. Brents was in that system because he had been convicted of raping two children in 1988.”Our response is that they had the capability once that profile was generated to run it against the database themselves,” Mang said.Denver police and CBI officials plan to meet this week to discuss how to prevent future problems.”We recognize this is a very important system,” Fisher said.—Information from: http://www.insidedenver.com
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