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DNA retest leads to cold case arrest

Jan. 29, 2013 at 4:55 PM   |   Comments

CLEVELAND, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Ohio prison officials investigating why a serial killer's DNA was not put into a state database said at least 300 others hadn't been recorded.

The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer said one of the 300 felons whose DNA wasn't properly recorded in the database -- violating a state law to collect samples to cross-reference with other cases and provide a record for police to check in future investigations -- was linked to crimes once a new sample was taken.

Larry McGowan, 37, served time for raping a 53-year-old woman and only after being let out on parole was he linked to three previously unsolved rapes and the 1997 murder of Maxine Pratt in Cleveland, the newspaper said.

Prison officials said McGowan's initial test "failed" in 2003 for an unknown reason. Protocol dictates when an inmate's sample isn't properly recorded the private lab that analyzed it was supposed to notify the corrections department and request a new one. It wasn't until 2012 that the lab notified state officials of his failed sample, said JoEllen Smith, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. Akron, Ohio, police then took a new DNA sample that linked McGowan to the other cases, The Plain Dealer said.

McGowan has additionally been charged with another alleged rape in November 2012 -- two weeks after he was let out on parole.

The state crime lab's investigation began when Anthony Sowell, who served 15 years in prison for attempted rape and was released in 2005, was arrested again in 2009 for killing 11 women in Cleveland. Sowell's DNA was never recorded prior to his release. Had that happened, police said they may have been able to identify him sooner and stop the killing spree.

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