Ferguson launched the project back in Oct. 2019. The project is a partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice and local law enforcement aimed at identifying and collecting court-ordered DNA samples. Collected samples are entered into a national database called the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), which is where samples can be used to help identify the perpetrators of unsolved rapes, murders and other crimes.
For the initial phase of the project, the office collected DNA from sex offenders in Washington who are legally required to provide it, but have not done so. This phase resulted in 372 new DNA profiles, eight of which resulted in a "hit", meaning the offender’s profile matched DNA evidence already in the database.
- Three unsolved sex offenses in Washington are now being reviewed as a result of these CODIS "hits".
- Two of the hits were confirmatory, meaning the offender has already been convicted, or is already a confirmed suspect.
- Three hits came from offenses outside the state of Washington. Law enforcement in those states will be notified of the new hit.
According to a press release from the Attorney General’s Office, Law enforcement have not yet reached the remaining six offenders in Washington state, including one offender in Clark County, three in Snohomish County and two in Columbia County.
The office is now moving to the next phase, which is collecting DNA samples from offenders of all other types of violent crimes.
"Out of respect for survivors and their experience, this work must be done," Ferguson said. "This project is bringing justice to survivors of assault, rape and other violent crimes. The more cold cases that are solved, the safer our communities will be."
In Washington, all offenders convicted of a felony, certain gross misdemeanors and all currently registered sex and kidnapping offenders are required to provide a DNA sample. Some offenders fail to comply, so the Attorney General’s Office lawfully owed DNA project aims to identify and collect these legally required samples.