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Hidden DNA evidence: exonerating the innocent

Perlin, M.W. Hidden DNA evidence: exonerating the innocent. Forensic Magazine, 15(1):10-12, 2018.


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Abstract: In 1989, northwest Indiana was plagued by bump-and-rob road crimes of escalating violence. In the darkness of a cold December night, a woman’s car was rear ended on highway I-65. Upon exiting her car, she was dragged into another vehicle, then stripped and raped by five strangers. The men left her in her car, draped by green coveralls. The same night, coworkers Darryl Pinkins, Roosevelt Glenn and William Durden had engine trouble along that highway. They parked their car on the roadside, and went to get help and motor oil. On their return, they found shattered side windows and their work coveralls gone.

Traced to their employer by the crime scene coveralls, Pinkins, Glenn and Durden, along with two other coworkers, were arrested for the I-65 bump-and-rape. RFLP testing of semen DNA left on the victim’s jacket and sweater excluded the defendants. But nonspecific serology testing, along with faulty hair evidence and tainted eye witness identification, led to Pinkins’ and Glenn’s wrongful convictions. Pinkins was found guilty of all charges in May 1991, and sentenced to 65 years in prison. Glenn’s 1992 jury deadlocked, but on retrial he was convicted of rape in 1993, and sentenced to 36 years. Despite their incarceration, the bump-and-rob and rape crimes continued unabated. The men’s exoneration by science would not happen soon.