Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

LA Forensics: Mysterious Confession

New Hope

Detective Bengtson decided he wasn't going to take no for an answer. Sometimes you get better results if you go in person, so on February 28, 2003, he and Flores drove to the L.A. County Coroner's Office and asked a colleague from the Coroner's Office to go through the evidence files one more time. Still, they couldn't find a single swab from any of the three cases.

Bengtson and Flores were on their way out the door when a woman from the Coroner's Office said, "Hey, I have all this evidence in this other room that's not marked and is not in the automated system."

One last hope.

"Let us go look at that," Bengtson said. "Let's see if we can find some more evidence."

The Search for Slides
The Search for Slides

BINGO! They found slides made from the rape kits used in all three San Pedro murder cases.

"This was a phenomenal break for us," Bengtson says. "These are slides that have never been seen by detectives or the Coroner's Office since the 70s. They were in the basement at the Coroner's Office tucked away in a filing cabinet. This was a huge discovery for us. We had evidence that we could work with and possibly get DNA from."

Detective Vivian Flores shared her partner's enthusiasm. "Finding evidence like that at the Coroner's Office is a treasure, it's like gold."

The next obstacle was whether the criminalists at SID, the LAPD's Scientific Investigation Division, would be able to extract DNA from such badly degraded samples.

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