NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – CODIS stands for Combined DNA Index System, and it helped investigators arrest Cleotha Abston, the suspect in the kidnapping case of Memphis, TN teacher, Eliza Fletcher, a mere 48 hours after she went missing during a morning jog.
“It is a tremendous help to be able to link [a] suspect to [the] victim as quickly as possible,” said Brad Garrett, former FBI agent, and ABC News contributor.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) can use this invaluable tool to link suspects to the scene of the crime.
In Memphis, a pair of champion slide sandals was left behind where Eliza Fletcher went missing Friday morning. Investigators collected DNA from those sandals, ran it through CODIS, and that’s what led law enforcement to arrest Cleotha Abston on Sunday morning.
“It’s pretty impressive how quickly they’ve been able to do this,” said Garrett.
DNA samples are put into CODIS following a specific felony offense and from criminal investigations. Once a sample comes into the lab, it gets a number and DNA profile, and then they can see if there’s a match.
Last month in Campbell County, CODIS helped identify the skeletal remains of a child who went missing four decades ago as those of Tracy Sue Walker from Indiana.
And decades later, CODIS linked the murder of a 23-year-old Clarksville woman to a suspect living in Arizona.
“We are able to give a name, and date of birth, and that personal information that belongs to that person’s database number. And that’s what solves crimes,” said Bailey Hartman, Special Agent with TBI.
In Tennessee alone, CODIS has received as many as 30,000 samples a year. And its reach extends beyond Tennessee. It can access state and federal agencies coast to coast.