Original Release Date: April 21, 2023
In episode three of our 2023 Sexual Assault Awareness Month mini season, Just Science sat down with Orlando Salinas, Lieutenant Trampas Gooding, and Jennifer Pollock from the Texas Department of Public Safety to discuss how statutes regarding lawfully owed DNA and familial DNA searches are utilized in sexual assault investigations.
When an unknown DNA profile is found in samples collected within a sexual assault kit, the unknown profile is searched within national DNA databases such as the Combined DNA Index System or CODIS. To ensure a comprehensive national database and enhance its use as an investigative tool, all states have legislation requiring the collection of DNA from known offenders of qualifying offenses and subsequent entry into CODIS. Some states also allow the use of familial DNA searching in CODIS. Listen along as Orlando, Lieutenant Gooding, and Jennifer describe how they collect lawfully owed DNA samples, conduct familial DNA searches, and talk about specific cases that were solved by using these investigative tools.
This episode of Just Science is funded by the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (Award #: 15PNIJ-21-GK-02192-MUMU).
Some content in this podcast may be considered sensitive and may evoke emotional responses, or may not be appropriate for younger audiences.
Raible, T., Salinas, O., Gooding, T., & Pollock, J. (2023, April 21). Just Science. Just DNA Searches in CODIS. [Audio podcast episode]. The Forensic Technology Center of Excellence. https://forensiccoe.org/podcast-2023-saam-ep3/
- 2023 Sexual Assault Awareness Month Webinar Series
- Exploring the Link Between Dating Apps and Sexual Assault: Novel Research Findings
- Solving Violent Crime Through Lawfully "Owed" DNA: Outcomes of Efforts to Address Missed DNA Samples
- Touch DNA Evidence Collection in Sexual Assault Cases: Knowledge to Inform Practice
- Low Prosecution Rates in Sexual Assault Cases: Can We Make Sustainable Improvements?
- National Best Practices for Sexual Assault Kits: A Multidisciplinary Approach
In January 2020, Orlando Salinas was selected as the Site Coordinator for the Texas Rangers' U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) grant 2019-AK-BX-0028 Expansion of the State DNA Database. As the coordinator for this grant, Orlando oversees the collection of lawfully owed DNA from 3,300 registered sex offenders who should have a DNA sample in the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), but do not. Further, Orlando has developed a multidisciplinary working group to perform a statewide comprehensive census to determine the number of “eligible” offenders who do not have a DNA profile in CODIS but should as the result of qualifying convictions and/or arrests. The comprehensive census performed in year one of this grant project illustrated up to 43,225 offenders may be eligible for DNA collection for entry into CODIS based on qualifying convictions and/or arrests. Orlando and the multidisciplinary team are reviewing each qualifying offender's computerized criminal history to verify DNA collection eligibility. Orlando has served with the Texas Department of Public Safety for six years.
Trampas Gooding has been in law enforcement since 1993 where he served as police officer in Central Texas. In 1998, he joined the Texas Department of Public Safety as a State Trooper and was later promoted to Texas Ranger in 2004. During his career as a Texas Ranger, he has investigated and assisted numerous active and cold case homicide and sexual assault investigations and has assisted in numerous skeletal remains excavations. He has provided assistance to Texas Rangers and other agencies with case and crime scene review, evidential review and prioritization, DNA analysis review, and consultation for further investigative strategies. In 2020, he was promoted to Staff Lieutenant and assigned to Texas Ranger Headquarters to assist and coordinate a federal grant called the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI). The grant was provided to the Texas Rangers in 2019 from Department of Justice, Bureau of Assistance, to assist with furthering cold case investigations involving unsolved sexual assaults and sexually related homicides by utilizing advanced DNA testing and genetic genealogy methods. Lt. Gooding serves as the SAKI Site Coordinator and Investigation Coordinator to review qualifying cases and coordinate with laboratory officials, district attorneys, investigative agencies, and Texas Rangers statewide (254 counties) to further these cases in hopes of bringing justice to the victims and their families. He is a current member of the Texas Sheriff's Cold Case Team, a member of the International Homicide Investigator's Association, and a law enforcement consultant to Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State.
Jennifer Pollock is a Section Supervisor in the CODIS Laboratory of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Crime Laboratory System in Austin. Prior to 2019, Jennifer was a forensic scientist in the DNA section of the Texas DPS Crime Laboratory in Houston. Jennifer received her Bachelor of Science degree in Forensic Science from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Upon completion, she received a Master of Science degree in Forensic Genetics from the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth, Texas. Throughout her career at DPS, she currently serves as the CODIS supervisor, has served as the local CODIS administrator and Team Lead within the Houston lab, been a member of the Crime Scene Team assisting the Texas Rangers and various agencies on crime scene investigations, analyzed evidence, performed DNA analysis on numerous cases, and delivered expert testimony in court on multiple criminal cases.