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DNA Evidence Collected By M-Vac Helps Solve 40 Year Old Cold Case

Investigators Use Aggressive Wet-Vacuum DNA Collection Method On 1977 Murder

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – 29 June 2017 – On December 4th, 1977 Sharon Schollmeyers was a 16 year old girl living in an apartment in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. Unfortunately, there was a murderous stalker who was dangerously close and it proved to be deadly for her. According to court documents the next day Sharon was found by her mother naked in her bathtub in 6 inches of water with a halter-top as a gag in her mouth and a scarf around her head as a blindfold. She had been strangled, suffocated and her death was ruled a homicide.

In the 1977 police report, the building manager, Patrick McCabe, let the victim’s mother into the apartment and waited in the living room as the mother searched for her daughter. When the victim was discovered McCabe made the 911 call to report the incident. Unfortunately, despite a thorough investigation, the case went cold. However, the investigators were astute enough to properly preserve the evidence which would, as new technology became available, provide the DNA profile that would ultimately lead to the arrest. Amazingly, the building manager that had made the original 911 call was the same man that had raped and murdered the victim.

“As a law enforcement agency, we never give up on a case,” stated Detective Wilking, the Salt Lake City PD PIO.  “We are always looking for that piece of the puzzle that will make the difference.  In the Sharon Schollmeyers case, the M-Vac came through for us and produced a full DNA profile that we didn’t have before, which led to the CODIS hit.  Sharon and her family have been waiting almost 40 years for justice, and thanks to the latest in technology, determination and the hard work of many investigators over decades of effort we were able to bring this case to a close and provide the justice that Sharon deserves.”

According to the court documents, the case evidence was submitted to a private crime lab in Salt Lake City, Sorenson Forensics, for M-Vac DNA testing, including the halter-top that was used to gag the victim. Despite almost 40 years after the heinous crime had been committed, the aggressive collection method produced a full DNA profile that could be loaded into the federal DNA database, and the match to Patrick McCabe was made. McCabe has since been convicted of 2nd degree murder and aggravated burglary and faces up to life in prison.

“We are extremely proud of the way the M-Vac performed in this case,” said Jared Bradley, President of M-Vac Systems. “Agencies that are using the M-Vac, especially for difficult cases or when the evidence is large, rough or porous like in the Shollmeyers case, are getting really impressive results. Salt Lake City PD is one of those agencies that has successfully used the M-Vac on a number of cases and we are excited to hear of these latest results. Most importantly though is Sharon can now rest in peace and her family can move on knowing Sharon’s killer has been caught.”

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.

Case No: 171902460 FS 3rd District Court, Salt Lake County, Utah

About M-Vac Systems
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 mvac. Additional information and sales quotes can be obtained by contacting M-Vac Systems by phone or through the website.

M-Vac System Testimonials – What Others Are Saying

There is no greater way for a product or service to gain credibility than to hear directly from the people who are using it.  As a relatively new technology, the M-Vac System has gradually worked its way into the sampling protocols and procedures of a number of labs and agencies, helping to solve crimes that otherwise may have never been solved.  Here are a few quotes regarding the technology and the impact it is having.

Our Agency is in the process of purchasing the M-Vac System known for its advancements in DNA collection. Our department has already experienced success with this device…” – Alameda County Sheriff’s Office

“What we do in the field is dip the swab in water and wipe and you collect a little more [DNA] that way, but let’s say it’s on a piece of clothing; I want to get the DNA. Then you want to use the way you clean clothes, right? Which is you inject a liquid and you suck it out.” – Dr. Greg Hampikian, Director of the Idaho Innocence Project

The M-Vac is the most powerful DNA collection method that we have ever witnessed. Our first unit was acquired July 30th, 2014. The unit was used as a last resort to process a brick in a brutal homicide that had stalled with the lack of substantial forensic evidence. Within one week of using the M-Vac, the full profile of the murderer was revealed and that case was solved. Our partnership with M-Vac Systems is highly valued as our positive case results remain continuous.”  — Sgt Stewart Mosher

“We’ve been researching this collection method for some time, but only got a first hand look at it recently and just started testing it this month.  Now that we have validated the M-Vac System ourselves, we are totally comfortable adopting it into our DNA collection processes, and are eager to use it in actual case work samples; especially on the more challenging evidence where DNA collection is most difficult. We are confident this new system will help our agency get DNA results where they may not have been achievable before, and that will be a good investment for our community.”  — Rachel Grant, DNA TL

Over the past year, DLI has utilized the M-Vac System on a wide variety of samples including items such as clothing, ropes, and even a car. One of the most common problems that forensic scientists encounter when screening clothing items for DNA is that there is often a great amount of DNA from the wearer, but very little from individuals that came into contact with the wearer. This is a situation where the M-Vac® collection system can be very helpful.

Overall, the M-Vac collection system is a very useful tool while screening evidence, especially in cases where very minor amounts of DNA are present over a large surface area. Using this system, DNA profiles have been generated that were not possible to obtain when previously generally swabbing the evidence.”  — Cristina Rentas, Senior DNA Analyst

“Initially what was found was a partial Y-STR that had only 5 markers. All 5 of those matched John Wall but also matched his male children.  The case went on for over a year before the M-Vac was used.  It was huge.  It was a huge development. The DNA the M-Vac found was one of two deciding factors in filing the murder charges.  Without the M-Vacing we had limited DNA and limited results.  It’s a great machine.”  — Detective Cordon Parks

The M-Vac worked, and it worked well.  It consistently collected more DNA. It worked well with our downstream DNA processes and instruments. The question for us is where and when to use it. In some cases, the traditional swabbing method is still a reasonable option. However, this collection technique will enhance our ability to collect DNA from some more challenging evidence. It will work well with contact DNA, where the location of the contact is unknown and the quantities are small or the surface area is large. I look forward to finalizing the study and fully implementing this technology into operation.”  — Michael Garvey, Ph.D., Director

“There are many officers, analysts and agencies that need to be thanked for their part in solving the Beslanowitch homicide. Without a doubt, the M-Vac System is the major tool that allowed us to make critical DNA connections in this case.”  — Sheriff Todd Bonner

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