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HomeNewsLocal newsVIPD: Still No DNA Results in Pillsbury Heights Rape Cases

VIPD: Still No DNA Results in Pillsbury Heights Rape Cases

After taking DNA samples in September from two potential suspects, the V.I. Police Department is not any closer to making an arrest in a series of rape cases in the Pillsbury Heights area on St. Thomas, but police did say at a town hall meeting Thursday night that crimes are down in the neighborhood due to increased patrols and a new canvassing initiative.

Police acknowledged on Sept. 10 that they were looking for a potential serial rapist on St. Thomas’s East End following multiple home invasions, rapes and a string of burglaries they have said could be related. At an initial town hall meeting on Sept. 21, officials said that based on information from residents, they were able to identify two suspects, interrogate and DNA test them.

A follow up meeting for the community was held Thursday night and, speaking at the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School gymnasium, St. Thomas-St. John District Police Chief Jason Marsh said, in short, that no results have come in from the stateside Federal Bureau of Investigation lab that the samples were sent to. Marsh said that the lab works with hundreds of police departments across the nation and that delays are possible.

“The most we can do is to call and follow up,” Marsh said to the crowd, which was, at most, 15 to 20 people. In response to questions from residents, Marsh and other VIPD panelists said that the two suspects are still able to travel since there is not yet any evidence against them, that it’s been at least a month since the DNA samples were sent off, and that they are not able to confirm fingerprint samples taken from any home unless there is a direct match in their criminal database system.

After residents sought further clarification on the department’s fingerprinting system, officials said that while there are other databases in the territory – government employees, for example, give their fingerprints during the hiring process and for background checking; anything lifted from a home is run only against VIPD’s criminal database, which include prints taken when individuals are booked and processed.

“We’re not able to put forth any more results at this time,” Marsh said in response to questions. VIPD Sgt. Lionel Bess added later that investigators have been working with local FBI agents on island but since this is a local crime, there is nothing more the FBI can do to expedite the process.

Marsh and VIPD Zone C Commander Lt. Sandra Colbourne (who handles the East End) did, however, say crime numbers are down in the area, attributing this to increased patrols and a new canvassing initiative that has police in the neighborhoods knocking on doors and talking directly to residents.

“We all have to work together to make this community safe, so we’re continuing to ask for everyone’s help,” Colbourne said. “Part of the reason that the stats went down is because we have new initiatives going on, where we’re going into the neighborhoods and we’re speaking to the residents. We are going in for anything we hear from the patrol areas and we’re making progress in keeping the crime rate down.”

Wrapping up the meeting Thursday, Pillsbury Heights resident Michael Lampe, along with Community and Police Association members Samuel Weekes and Bruce Flamon, said they would be taking the initiative to organize a crime prevention unit for residents within the community and raise funds for the samples to be analyzed at a private lab.

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