Investigators Use Aggressive Wet-Vacuum DNA Collection Method On 1996 Murder
Christopher Tapp, who 20 years ago was convicted for the 1996 murder of 18 year old Angie Dodge, walked out of the Idaho Falls Courtroom yesterday a free man. According to court documents, Tapp was released early due to a deal made between the prosecution and the defense, and approved by Judge Alan Stephens, that enabled him to be released with time served but he maintained the 1st degree murder conviction. The rape conviction against him was vacated. Much of that deal hinged on DNA evidence left at the crime scene that all points to one man, but that man is not Chris Tapp. Of the DNA evidence collected over the past year, the majority was collected by the M-Vac System.
According to testimony, the process to revisit DNA evidence in the Dodge case began last spring. Advances in DNA technology, including the M-Vac forensic DNA collection method, gave those involved with the case confidence that more DNA material could be collected, and more sensitive lab equipment and methods could better determine whose DNA was on the evidence. A stronger DNA profile or profiles could potentially solidify Angie Dodge’s killer, or eliminate from scrutiny those that did not. Detectives from the Idaho Falls Police Department coordinated with the West Jordan PD in Utah to have the M-Vac used on the evidence. Several items of Angie’s clothing and a teddy bear were all sampled and the collected evidence was then sent to a private crime lab in Salt Lake City.
“After all of the items were sampled and we got the lab results back, none of the major DNA profiles from the evidence matched Chris Tapp,” said Detective Pat McKenna, the lead investigator assigned to the case. “Using the M-Vac was definitely a smart move by the Department as it gave us much more information than we had before. We appreciate the WJPD for their cooperation. We now have stronger DNA evidence, from multiple items from the crime scene, that all points to one suspect. Rest assured we will not stop searching until we find that suspect.”
Before using the M-Vac, lab technicians had tried the swabbing method, but it did not produce full confidence that all the DNA profiles were fully represented. When the investigative team learned of the new and more robust wet-vacuum method, it was an easy decision to try it. And despite the case being over 20 years old and the evidence having been previously swabbed the M-Vac still produced results.
“This is one of a number of cases we have been able to assist in and use our M-Vac system,” states Francine Bardole, West Jordan Police Department Senior CSI. “Multi-agency cooperation is so important in solving tough cases. No one has all the answers, so where we can offer expertise we do so gladly. We’ve successfully used the M-Vac so many times that it’s become an area where we can certainly advise others in where to use it. This case definitely fit into the ‘must try it’ category. It’s a great tool and there are a lot of cases out there where it would help significantly.”
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.
Bonneville County Case #CR-1997-481
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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.