DNA evidence plays a major part in criminal investigations and cases and it can be collected from some unlikely sources.
Recently the Dallas Morning News reported on how newly discovered hairs collected from a vacuum cleaner will be subjected to DNA testing to see whether any belong to a Fort Worth woman who went missing more than a year ago from The Shops at Legacy in Plano.
Zeke Fortenberry, a Collin County prosecutor, told a judge during a hearing last week that he received a supplemental report by the Texas Department of Public Safety lab on related to hairs recovered from the debris of a Shop Vac.
Enrique Arochi has been charged with the kidnapping of Christina Morris, a 23-year-old woman who disappeared on Aug. 30 last year.
Fortenberry has notified the defense for Arochi about the plan to test the hairs. He said police will send the potential evidence to the University of North Texas lab for DNA.
The hairs were found in a vacuum cleaner that investigators retrieved from a Sprint store in Wylie where Arochi worked as a manager. He reported for his shift there after a surveillance camera at The Shops at Legacy recorded Arochi walking into a parking garage just before 4 a.m. Aug. 30 with Christina Morris.
The Dallas Morning News reported that the 23-year-old woman has not been seen since. Her car was still parked in the garage days later when her family reported her missing.
News reports said the two were acquaintances and had been out partying with mutual friends before the disappearance. They walked together to the garage where they had both parked their cars.
Police say the found inconsistencies in Arochi’s stories and he has been jailed since December on the kidnapping charge. The aggravated kidnapping charge was also based on DNA evidence that investigators say was found in his trunk. The Dallas Morning News reported Morris’ DNA has also been found on the Camaro trunk’s opening and on a mat in the trunk.
If the hairs are viable for DNA testing, results from the lab will take about 12 weeks, Fortenberry said. That means Arochi’s trial on a charge of aggravated kidnapping in connection with Morris’ disappearance would likely be delayed. At present the trial is scheduled for Nov. 30.
District Judge Mark Rusch told attorneys that he would wait to hear whether the DNA testing would proceed before changing the trial date.
Defense attorneys in the case have filed motions to suppress any evidence obtained from phone calls that Arochi has made from jail. All calls from the jail contain a warning that both parties are being recorded.
Fortenberry told the judge that Arochi made hundreds of calls, some of them in Spanish, and these are still being translated and reviewed. The prosecutor said it was too early to say whether any are relevant to the case.
A ruling on whether any of the calls will be allowed as evidence at the trial will come later once prosecutors decide whether to use them at trial.
DNA is one of the most powerful pieces of evidence available in a trial but cases like this illustrate how new DNA tests can complicate and delay a trial.