Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Bag of Tricks: The Murder of Roland Kuster

Trying to Make a Match

The Scientific Investigation Division had its hands full. SID needed to process a shoeprint, fingerprints and blood evidence. With so much blood, it was hard to imagine where they'd start.

Unlike the quick proesses portrayed in television shows like CSI, forensic testing takes weeks and sometimes months to process. And these scientists had a mountain of evidence.

A criminalist examined the shoeprint photograph and went page by page through various catalogs before discovering that it came from a Nike tennis shoe.

Criminalist Susan Brockbank
Criminalist Susan Brockbank
"It is a little bit exciting when you do see bloody shoeprints at a crime scene ... because there's that timeliness factor where someone had to have walked through the blood while it was still wet," said criminalist Susan Brockbank. "It puts them at the crime scene at a particular time."

Detectives searched the homes of all the people who were at Kuster's little party, but didn't find any Nikes. They also obtained fingerprints from all known acquaintances. Several of them came back positive from the crime scene, but none of them were near any blood. The print on the bottom of the bloody coffee can was found to be Kuster's.

Another disappointment was the hair found clutched in Kuster's hand. It was his own. Everything turned out to be a dead end, so detectives were left with the blood evidence. DNA tests were done on samples throughout the house but none of it belonged to Brandon. They had to let him go.

"I was disappointed ... I never want to arrest the wrong guy," Detective Small said.

But whose DNA did they have on their multiple of samples? Back in 1997, detectives couldn't just push a button on a computer and come up with a match. They needed to insert a sample from a suspect and ask the computer to compare it.




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