New tech could speed up getting DNA results

Monday, April 22, 2019
News 12 at 6 o'clock/NBC at 7

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- New technology could help get results in police investigations much faster. DNA testing can take months or more to get answers. New tech could get law enforcement answers in just 90 minutes.

This could help with cases like Andrya Deghelder's, the Grovetown mother found dead in a dumpster last summer.

There are still no suspects in her murder but a person of interest in the case is in jail right now. Christopher Gibson is indicted on multiple charges unrelated to Deghelder's death.

Even now, we're still waiting for DNA results to come back from evidence collected from Deghelder's home from back in July. That is expected to be the key to naming a suspect.

Investigators say the DNA results are the key to charging anyone with murder in this case. Because of the backlog at the crime lab, the Columbia County Sheriff's Office and the coroner's office are still waiting on those results.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is wait but for friends and family of Andrya Deghelder, waiting is the only option.

Nine months ago, the Grovetown mother was murdered in her home. Investigators left the scene with bags of evidence, containing DNA that's also waiting at the GBI crime lab.

"It's going on a year, so it's been a while. It might go another three or four months," said Vernon Collins, the Columbia County Coroner.

For Collins, the backlog is frustrating because this is the longest he has waited for results.

"Yes, to my knowledge and my memory," said Collins.

But what if there was a better way? A rapid DNA machine analyzes a DNA sample in 90 minutes.

"It would probably speed it up immensely," said Collins.

The FBI is just starting to use it.

“If you get it back in a day or so and apply it to the suspect's DNA and it's on the weapon that caused the person's death and you're in their house, what more do you need," said Collins.

Making the wait a little less.

This technology is being implemented at police booking stations across the country. But, for that to come here to Georgia, the state will have to pass a DNA Arrestee Law. Right now, it's not legal for DNA to be collected from individuals charged, but not convicted of a crime.

Even if they were to get this tech tomorrow, right now, Georgia law prevents taking DNA samples from suspects unless they are convicted of a crime.

There's a bill on the governor's desk right now that could change that and allow law enforcement to take DNA samples from suspects who are charged with a crime.