DNA Evidence Collected By M-Vac Key In Prosecuting 18-Year-Old Cold Case

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Wet-Vacuum DNA Collection Method Helps Investigators Solve Krystal Beslanowitch 1995 Murder

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If we didn’t have the M-Vac and those forward-thinking enough to work with the M-Vac, I don’t know if we would have ever solved this case.

Krystal Beslanowitch, a 17-year-old girl who was brutally murdered in 1995, can finally rest in peace. Her killer, Joseph Michael Simpson, was found guilty by a jury Thursday, September 29, 2016, and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole in the Utah 4th District Court (Case #131500240) in Heber City, Utah. According to court documents, Krystal’s naked body and the granite river rocks used to bludgeon her to death were found on December 15, 1995, next to the Provo River in Wasatch County, about 40 miles southeast of Salt Lake City. Despite the best efforts of the investigators the case went cold for almost 18 years.

Fast forward to 2013. As stated during the trial, investigators, led by Wasatch County Sheriff Todd Bonner, who in 1995 was a new deputy and first to arrive at the murder scene, learned two critical things that made a major difference in the investigation. One, crime lab equipment had reached the sensitivity level that it was possible to produce a DNA profile from touch DNA, even minute amounts; and two, there was a new wet-vacuum based DNA collection system called the M-Vac that a private crime lab in Salt Lake City possessed. The investigative team took the rocks to the lab and had them tested. According to court documents, the M-Vac collected 21 nanograms of DNA material. Typically about 0.5 nangrams are needed to produce a full DNA profile, so DNA analysts now had plenty to work with. This feat was accomplished despite the rocks having been swabbed before the M-Vac was utilized. Based on trial testimony, in the DNA sample were two contributors – one major and one minor.

The major DNA profile was then loaded into the national database called CODIS and they got a “hit”, meaning a match to a suspect. According to court documents, Joseph Simpson was that suspect and investigators were able to locate him in Florida. During trial testimony Sheriff Bonner described how he and his team coordinated with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office to locate and surveille Simpson, surreptitiously obtain a DNA sample from a cigarette to verify it was him, and arrest him for murder. Now, three years later Simpson has been convicted and sentenced to serve life without the possibility of parole by a jury in the Utah 4th District Court.

After the trial Sheriff Bonner stated, “The main reason we found the murderer and he was convicted was the DNA technology available in the M-Vac System. Thankfully, our detectives worked with the M-Vac, Sorensen Forensics, and the State of Utah Crime Lab to analyze the rocks that were used to murder Krystal. If we didn’t have the M-Vac and those forward-thinking enough to work with the M-Vac, I don’t know if we would have ever solved this case. We scoured the crime scene, the river banks and the nearby highway for miles to gather as much evidence as possible. Over the years we interviewed hundreds of people. But the case still went cold. Fortunately, the ability to collect DNA from a rock was developed and it produced what was needed to prove Joe Simpson was the major contributor to the DNA on that rock. I’m just so thankful to all those that helped solve this case. It has haunted me my entire career and now it’s finally over. We finally found Krystal’s murderer.”

Before using the M-Vac, according to court documents, lab technicians had tried the swabbing method, but it did not collect enough DNA material to produce a viable profile. When the investigative team learned of the new and more robust wet-vacuum method, it was an easy decision to try it. The results made all the difference.

“Helping solve the Beslanowitch case was a significant event for the M-Vac,” stated Jared Bradley, President of M-Vac Systems. “In 2013 most of the crime labs and law enforcement agencies had no idea the M-Vac even existed, let alone that the system could collect enough DNA from a rock to produce a profile. Once that news broke and we could tell other agencies about it, investigators have used the M-Vac to produce profiles from cement, bricks, all sorts of clothing items, wood, rope and other really difficult surfaces. The agencies that own or have access to an M-Vac are in a much better position to generate DNA profiles from tough situations and likely solve more crime. We’re really proud of the cases the M-Vac has helped in and seeing Krystal’s case finally come to a close is just awesome.”

The M-Vac System is being utilized by an increasing number of police agencies and crime labs both in the United States and internationally. As investigators are assigned difficult cases, having a tool like the M-Vac immediately available helps immensely. It can collect critical DNA evidence from a variety of surfaces at the crime scene, in the evidence processing facility or in the crime lab. As the world’s most advanced wet-vacuum forensic DNA collection system, the M-Vac opens up cases and evidence to potential DNA profiles that were not available in the past.

About M-Vac Systems

M-Vac Systems is the world’s leader in wet-vacuum forensic DNA collection. Made in the USA and engineered for maximum collection capabilities, M-Vac Systems’ technology is the most innovative and capable forensic DNA material collection tool available for crime scene investigators, forensic scientists, sexual assault nurse examiners and other law enforcement specialists. For a more detailed description of the product and validation data, visit Why M-Vac. Additional information and sales quotes can be obtained by contacting M-Vac Systems by phone or through the website.

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Jared Bradley
since: 08/2010
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