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Long Wait For DNA Test After Puyallup Fair Disappearance in 1992


Indeed, television characters are often observed swabbing evidence for DNA samples before racing back to the lab to prepare the results, which invariably point to the bad guy. The fact that many of these fictional crime scene investigators, specialist lab technicians and scientists are then directly involved in the arrest of said criminal ought to provide a clue as to the show’s realism. Unfortunately, real life is never that simple or glamorous and it is more than rare for DNA test results to be available within hours or days, let alone provide conclusive proof.

In fact, the time it takes for DNA test results to clear depends on a number of factors relating both to the scientific testing itself and various legal, social and administrative problems that inevitably arise in the course of a crime being investigated forensically. Indeed, the difficult case of the Puyallup Fair disappearance in 1992 highlighted how the wait for DNA test results can be protracted to say the least. Actually, the Puyallup case suffered from a number of problems before the DNA tests could even begin, which demonstrated the difficulties of communication between law enforcement agencies and the potential hazards of contaminated forensic evidence.

The Puyallup case involved the disappearance of Misty Copsey, who was 14 years old at the time, at the Puyallup Fair on September 17th 1992. Although there were suspicions at the time that Misty may have run away or been kidnapped, Puyallup police are now officially investigating her disappearance as homicide. The search for Misty at the time of her disappearance resulted in the finding of a single pair of jeans that were identified as belonging to the teenager and which were later sent for DNA test analysis. In fact, the DNA sample recovered from the jeans may provide a vital clue that could help to solve the mystery of Misty Copsey’s disappearance and presumed murder. On the other hand, the wait for this DNA test may result in nothing conclusive at all. Whilst this is normal, the problem is that the Puyallup police cannot use the DNA sample to any great effect until the FBI accepts it into its CODIS database.

Indeed, before DNA test results or samples can be accepted into the CODIS database, they must be able to meet strict Federal guidelines on evidence submission. Thus, for DNA test results on the blue jeans to be entered into the CODIS database, which would significantly widen the hunt for Misty’s supposed killer, they must be proved reliable. Unfortunately, Misty Copsey’s case is one that has been patched together by multiple law enforcement agencies and departments and there is a strong possibility that key evidence may have been corrupted. For example, the blue jeans from which the DNA sample was extracted had been in King County custody for years before being handed over to Puyallup police. Before this time, the jeans had been handled by numerous people and had been pawed at by sniffer dogs and left in a muddy ditch for a period of time. As stated above, for DNA test results to be entered in the CODIS database, they must meet strict Federal guides. Unfortunately, in Misty’s case, it is not clear whether DNA samples will ever prove useful.

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