Better DNA technology helps Florida police solve 23-year-old murder

Feb. 25, 2014 at 1:48 PM
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CORAL SPRINGTS, Fla., Feb. 25 (UPI) -- The murder of a 20-year-old south Florida woman 23 years ago has finally been solved because of improvements in DNA technology and procedures, police say.

However, the suspected killer was executed in 2011 for a 1989 triple murder, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Tuesday.

Ivelisse Berrios-Beguerisse was found naked and asphyxiated in November 1990 in a Coral Springs neighborhood three hours after she left work at a Broward County mall. Investigators gathered genetic evidence, said cold-case investigator Dan Cucchi, but the technology at the time was less sophisticated than today. Additionally, there was no database of DNA from convicted criminals with which to compare it.

Cucchi and his partner, Brian Koenig, were assigned the case in August. They asked for DNA evidence collected more than two decades to be retested.

The DNA matched Oba Chandler, convicted in 1994 in the rape, strangulation and killing of Joan Rogers and her two teenage daughters in St. Petersburg.

He was executed by lethal injection three years ago.

Chandler's DNA was collected when he was convicted, four years after the death of Berrios-Beguerisse, but "it's just that we didn't have a profile from our victim's rape kit at that time," Cucchi said.

In the interim, forensic technology also changed.

"Back in 1990, rape kits and the DNA collection process were not the same but now it's way more advanced," the detective said. "You can actually take a smaller sample and through the new technology they can develop potential profiles and suspect DNA, where in the past they could not."

Koenig said he and Cucchi are also examining other cold cases that might have similar evidence.

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