DNA from 2006 holdup in Raynham matches a woman in jail.
Soon after a convenience store in Raynham was held up in 2006, police searching the area for evidence found a sweatshirt and hat believed worn by a female suspect.
Blonde hairs on that clothing, discarded along the edge of a road, were processed for DNA evidence and information entered into a database.
Recently, Raynham police learned there was a match.
“It is always a pleasant surprise when something like this happens,” Raynham Police Chief Louis J. Pacheco said.
It was not the first time DNA has linked crimes to possible suspects and it won’t be the last, authorities said.
There were 452 case-to-case or case-to-suspect “hits” in Massachusetts in the DNA database system last year, up from 121 in 2004. Of that number, 15 were in Plymouth County, 32 in Bristol County and 44 in Norfolk County.
But while most crimes solved by DNA in the past were homicides or sex crimes, authorities say advances in the technology are now giving other cases — such as the robbery in the Raynham — an investigative boost.
“The advances in science are only going to help us,” Brockton police Lt. John Crowley, chief of detectives, said this week.
In the Raynham case, a woman claiming to have a gun walked into the Shop & Save at Hill Street and Route 44 shortly before 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 25, 2006.
“Empty the register right now,” the clerk quoted the suspect as saying, according to police.
“What?” he answered.
“I have a gun. Hurry, do it now,” she ordered, according to police.
The woman, police said, had her hand inside her front pocket, pointing as if she held a gun.
The suspect fled when a truck pulled up to the store, just as the clerk was about to empty the register.
Clothing matching the description of what the woman was wearing was later found on the edge of a nearby street. The ground was wet at the time from earlier rain, but the clothing was dry, police said.
Hairs found on the clothing were sent to the state lab for analysis, and recently Raynham police were notified there was a DNA match to a woman now in jail.
Investigators and prosecutors are now reviewing the evidence and case. The still-jailed suspect, whose name was not released, has not yet been charged.
Throughout the country and state, DNA has been a key tool in identifying some suspects and clearing others.
At least nine people imprisoned on charges ranging from rape to murder have been freed, thanks to DNA evidence comparisons through the Innocence Project, founded in 1992 to help prisoners who could be proven innocent by DNA testing.
But, in other cases, it has been instrumental in identifying suspects. It helped identify a Brockton rape suspect who was living in Evansville, Ind. It also helped link a series of rapes of prostitutes in the city and was crucial in the arrest of a suspect.
Anyone convicted of a felony in Massachusetts must submit DNA samples, information later entered into the DNA database. The samples are stored in the Maynard state police lab.
Other DNA samples — about 3,200 called “forensic unknowns” — collected by investigators at crime scenes are stored in a different area at the crime lab for comparison.
The DNA profile found in the blood is uploaded to the state DNA database, called the State DNA Index System, then to a national database, known as the National DNA Index System, using the software system CODIS, or Combined DNA Index System.
The FBI does a nationwide search weekly to see if offender profiles or cases match any unsolved cases. The state does a search at least once a week.
Maureen Boyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.