Following the July 25, 2022 arrest of a suspect in the 1988 murder of Helen Vogt, we took a look at how DNA analysis helped investigators potentially solve this cold case.
We spoke with experts about how forensic evidence could lead to a conviction.
One local expert said that advances in technology are helping investigators solve cold cases such as the murder of Helen Vogt.
Authorities arrested 55-year-old Jeremy Brock on July 25 in Austin, Texas for allegedly stabbing and killing his grandmother Helen Vogt in Erie in 1988.
In 1990, Brock was arrested in Texas on other charges, and samples of blood, saliva and hair were taken from the suspect.
Decades later, authorities reopened the case and compared these samples to the DNA found in evidence from the crime scene.
One local biology professor said that this kind of evidence can exclude suspects from the case.
“You can essentially identify patterns in the DNA that are characteristic of a specific individual or a specific family at least,” said Dr. Michael Foulk, PHD, associate professor, Mercyhurst University.
Authorities said that a washcloth was found at the crime scene and contained blood from the victim as well as the suspect’s DNA.
The analysis also found Brock’s DNA in the bloody surfaces inside the victim’s home.
Dr. Folk said that advances in technology are helping investigators solve cold cases.
“DNA evidence is really, really powerful in backing up a larger, broader case that includes many types of evidence,” said Dr. Folk.
“That DNA evidence both in terms of events going forward in the future and looking back has been helpful in establishing justice. Whether it’s proving the innocence of someone wrongly convicted or prosecuting someone who has so far escaped justice,” said Eric Purchase, attorney.
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Purchase said that DNA evidence can support a prosecutors case. However, it is not always enough to make a conviction as it can be supplemented by other kinds of evidence such as witness testimony.