January 22, 2010 By Elaine Pittman
John Floyd Thomas -- the so-called Westside Rapist in California's Claremont area -- was charged in April 2009 with murdering two women in the 1970s, later was linked to five more murders. Nearly 40 years after the women's deaths, Thomas will stand trial, thanks to DNA evidence obtained by the Los Angeles Police Department's Cold Case Homicide Unit.
Another L.A. case was solved in November when a DNA sample from the murder scene of Hazel Hughes matched Victor Alvarez, according to the Los Angeles Times. The 27-year-old mystery was solved and another cold case was laid to rest.
DNA evidence is heating up cold cases because of a 2004 initiative passed by California voters. Proposition 69 -- the DNA Fingerprint, Unsolved Crime and Innocence Protection Act -- authorized DNA collection from all felons, including those with previous felony convictions and individuals arrested for or charged with a felony offense, beginning in 2009.
According to Wired.com, the new law is expected to add the genetic material of more than 1 million people to California's DNA and Forensic Identification Database and Data Bank within five years, making it the nation's largest state-run databank.
To provide its 47 law enforcement agencies with the tools to comply with the law, the L.A. County Information Systems Advisory Board (ISAB) created a Web-based DNA Offender Tracking System (DOTS) that identifies arrestees who must provide a DNA sample.
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