Correction: Inmates-DNA story

Published:

CLEVELAND (AP) -- In a story Jan. 29 about inmate DNA samples, The Associated Press erroneously reported the status of more than 300 offenders identified in 2012 as not having DNA on file with the state and needing resampling. Not all of them were released in 2012; some remain incarcerated, according to the state prisons department.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Ohio inmates released without giving DNA samples

Ohio officials not sure how many inmates are released without submitting DNA samples

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Officials have acknowledged that they may never know how many people were released from Ohio prisons without having their DNA entered into databases that could help link them to other crimes.

More than 300 offenders were identified in 2012 as not having DNA on file with the state and needing resampling, according to the attorney general's office. And that includes only the ones who were in prison or on parole when officials began trying to figure out whose DNA was missing, The Plain Dealer newspaper of Cleveland reported Tuesday.

Some of those offenders remain incarcerated, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

State law requires that DNA be collected from felons, and law enforcement agencies say it increasingly is allowing them to solve more crimes. The samples can help them put a name to DNA evidence collected at crime scenes or link together multiple crimes by the same person.

State officials say they started looking into the lapse in 2011 when they learned that DNA collected from convicted Cleveland serial killer and rapist Anthony Sowell was never entered into databases. Sowell was convicted of killing 11 women at his home between 2007 and 2009.

After it was discovered that Sowell's DNA never made it into the system, the state crime lab undertook a major effort to identify any other lapses, according to Thomas Stickrath, who oversees the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification.

Stickrath said it was a tedious process for his staff to compare hundreds of documents by hand over several months to verify which inmates did or didn't have their samples in the system.

"It was a one-time thing, very specifically to see if there were any errors," Stickrath said. He said the thought was "let's not have another Sowell."

That effort led to the list of more than 300 people who were in the prison system at the time. The prisons agreed to re-collect samples so the state lab could enter them into the databases.

One of the inmates on the list of 300 to be re-sampled was Larry McGowan, 37, who Cleveland police announced last week had been linked to rapes reported by women on Cleveland's southeast side in 1996, 1998 and 2010, and a 1997 slaying.

Stickrath said state prisons will be responsible for collecting fewer samples in the future because the responsibility has shifted to hundreds of local law enforcement agencies under the new Ohio law that requires DNA to be collected from anyone arrested for a felony offense.