Executed murderers and those convicted of indecent exposure are not in the DNA databases in Washington state—but a new bill proposes to add them.
The SHB 1111 bill, which last advanced to committee last month, could crack unsolved murders and rapes in the Evergreen State, according to its proponents.
“It’s going to collect DNA from some of our most dangerous felons in the state that we haven’t collected before,” said State Representative Tina Orwall (D-33), the bill sponsor. “This legislation is a powerful tool for law enforcement in helping to solve crimes, including cold cases and homicides, and to exonerate those who were wrongly accused.”
The bill adds indecent exposure to the list of offenses that prompt a mandatory DNA sample collection, a list which already includes sexual misconduct, stalking and patronizing a prostitute, according to the bill.
Dead offenders whose DNA is lawfully obtained and within the control of law enforcement must be collected, as well.
The bill also proposes to expand the definition of “refusal to provide a DNA sample” to apply to any person legally compelled to submit a sample—and not just the convicted required to register as sex or kidnapping offenders, the bill adds.
The measure is currently before the Washington House’s Committee on Appropriations.
The bill has been dubbed “Jennifer and Michella’s Law,” after two young girls who were abducted, raped and killed in Tacoma in 1986. The violent deaths of Jennifer Bastian and Michella Welch both remain unsolved.
Local media pointed to some infamous offenders who were never included in CODIS or other DNA databases. One of note was Charles Rodman Campbell, who killed two women and a child in 1982, and was executed by hanging in 1994 before providing a genetic sample.
During a legislative hearing last month, Detective Lindsey Wade of the Tacoma Police Department, who is investigating the Bastian case, said putting dead offenders into CODIS may solve crimes of the past.
“I do think it will assist law enforcement across our state to solve cold cases,” said Wade. “We do have offenders in our state who have been convicted of violent offenses like murder, kidnapping and sex crimes who have never provided a DNA sample.”