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SPECIAL REPORT: Solving Cold Cases Part II
ANKENY, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- It's a CSI fan's dream - but the DCI crime lab in Ankeny is far from the lights, camera and flash of Hollywood.
We spend a lot of time doing the paperwork, Lab Supervisor Paul Bush said.
However, the 52 men and women here do more than that. It's their job to gather evidence from hundreds of Iowa crimes every year. The lab consists of several areas - guns and ballistics to drug analysis, handwriting, and fingerprints,
The DCI Crime lab is also home to the DNA Crime Lab. The lab consists of 11 analysts within 2 different analysts. Its that lab that helped John Crutcher and his family find closure after 30 long years.
Crutcher recalls the call he got from Ankeny last year.
Mr. Crutcher this is a special agent with the Iowa DCI, I would like to talk to you about your mother and your brother, he recalls.
Crutcher lost his mother Sara Link, along with his brother Justin Alfie Hook and his brother's girlfriend Tina Lade back in 1984. The killer was never caught.
After the initial call, he kept in contact with the lab constantly.
We're working on some leads, we're making progress, don't discuss it with anybody, the agent told him.
Meanwhile, the work was going on behind the scenes back at DCI. Lab supervisor Paul Bush has been working with DNA for decades.
Any type of physical evidence where we would believe there would be evidence left by the suspect or perpetrator, we would collect that sample, Bush said.
Bush says DNA analysis has changed a great deal since he started. For one, DNA kits have improved, now you're able to get DNA from a wider array of samples,
Usually we can get results from the amount of blood you can fit on a q-tip or a cotton swab, says criminalist Mike Schmit.
It all means analysis is quicker, freeing up criminalists to examine more cases.
The CODIS system has also played a large role in DNA advances. It's a system a little more than a decade old. Think of it a Rolodex for DNA, from offenders and arrestees nationwide.
We've got about 82 thousand database samples in our state, there's over 10 million data base samples in the nation, Bush says.
CODIS is what helped pinpoint a killer. Schmidt was one of the criminalists working on cracking this cold case.
I was able to get a DNA profile from sperm on one of the victim's pants, Schmit says.
That victim was Tina Lade He loaded the sample into CODIS.
We got a hit against Missouri's database of convicted offenders, Schmit says.
Finally, after 30 long years, there was a face and name to fit the crime - Andrew Wessel Six. Six was already questioned on the case before, but there wasnt enough evidence to pursue charges.
They were evil, Crutcher said. They had no redeeming factors. None.
Just 3 short years after killing Tina, Sara and Alfie,
Six was arrested for kidnapping and torturing an Ottumwa family, then raping and killing their 13 year old daughter. Her body was later found in Missouri.
Six was executed under Missouri's death penalty law in 1997. While waiting on death row, he was questioned about the triple murders but was uncooperative.
It all means Crutcher will never get to look into the killers eyes, in addition to never getting back what he once had.
I walked in here and I got to give my sister a hug, he says. If I want to go see my mother and brother, I've got to go to a graveyard. It's not right.
There is some a sense of closure.
It closed all those possibilities, said Cindy Moyes, John's sister. We all know who was involvednow we know that it was Andrew Six.
For the Schmit, it was all the fulfillment of lifelong aspirations.
It's been an honor being able to work on these cold cases, Schmit says. I remember some of these cases from when I was a kid. At least you can tell them we did not forget about your case.
For Crutcher and his family, their nightmare can finally come to an end.
I don't have to look over my shoulder anymore.
It all started with a simple phone call, and a persistent agent on the case.
He never promised me nothing but he literally gave me the moon and stars.
Unfortunately, federal grant funding for cold cases was exhausted in 2011. This case was one of the last ones under that specific grant.
The DCI says even so, they will continue to investigate cases as new leads develop and technology allows.
Crutcher says for the sake of other families, he hopes DCI continues to crack these cases.