Press Release

For Immediate Release
November 2, 2005

Washington D.C.
FBI National Press Office
(202) 324-3691


Washington, D.C. -- The FBI Laboratory today announced that four regional crime laboratories have partnered with the FBI Laboratory to augment the nation's capacity to perform mitochondrial (mt) DNA analysis in forensic and missing persons cases. This analysis is conducted free of charge to state and local law enforcement agencies. MtDNA analysis is applied to biological items of evidence found at a crime scene containing small or degraded quantities of DNA from hair, bones, and teeth. Typically, these items contain low concentrations of degraded DNA, making them unsuitable for nuclear DNA examinations. The high sensitivity of mtDNA analysis allows the laboratory to obtain information from old items of evidence associated with cold cases and small pieces of evidence containing little biological material. It should be noted that since mtDNA is maternally inherited and multiple individuals can have the same mtDNA type, positive identifications are not possible using mtDNA testing.

Prior to forming this partnership, the FBI Laboratory was the only crime laboratory in the country that performed mtDNA examinations free of charge to state and local law enforcement agencies. The FBI Laboratory conducted mtDNA analysis in over 600 cases during Fiscal Year 2005. The nation's capacity to deliver this analysis to the criminal justice system is expected to double to over 1200 cases in Fiscal Year 2006 with the assistance of these partner laboratories. The increased use of mtDNA analysis will not only provide valuable information for solving violent crime and terrorism cases, it will also enhance the quantity of profiles in the National Missing Person DNA database. This database is a valuable resource which has the potential to identify missing persons by linking them to DNA profiles of relatives or unidentified human remains.

On September 30, 2003, the FBI awarded multi-year, cooperative agreements to the following agencies:

Arizona Department of Public Safety Central Crime Laboratory in Phoenix, Arizona Connecticut State Police Forensic Science Laboratory in Meriden, Connecticut Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Forensic Science Laboratory in St. Paul, Minnesota New Jersey State Police Crime Laboratory in Trenton, New Jersey

The cooperative agreements provide for the FBI Laboratory to equip these regional mtDNA laboratories, to authorize casework, and to ensure that the laboratory analysis meets FBI quality standards. In addition, the FBI Laboratory pays for the salaries of regional laboratory personnel, supplies, and testimony travel. Since signing the cooperative agreements, the Bureau has provided training at the FBI Laboratory to all of the scientists from each of the regional crime laboratories in laboratory procedures as well as scientific and legal issues affecting mtDNA analysis and microscopic hair examinations. During this time, the regional crime laboratories have renovated their laboratories and performed validation studies for the procedures they will use. Partner laboratories will be responsible for mtDNA analysis, reporting results, and testifying if necessary. The initial term of the cooperative agreements is three years but may be renewed indefinitely for two-year periods.

Cases will be submitted directly to the regional mtDNA laboratories. In 2005, the crime laboratories in Arizona, Minnesota, and New Jersey became operational on September 27th, October 3rd, and October 31 st respectively. The Connecticut State Police Forensic Science Laboratory is still validating procedures and protocols for use in their laboratory. Law enforcement agencies who are interested in this service should contact the FBI Laboratory.

The FBI Laboratory remains committed to building long-term partnerships with state and local forensic laboratories to provide critical forensic services as well as to develop and implement new technologies. The Bureau continues to benefit from working with talented and dedicated employees from these regional crime laboratories as well as from international, national, state, and local laboratories.


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