A new federally funded DNA database may help Illinois State Police identify the bodies of three women found dumped by highways in 2002, the Associated Press reports.
Police believe the three were raped, tortured and killed by serial killer Maury Troy Travis, with some of the slayings videotaped. But Travis never identified the three women, and he hanged himself in a St. Louis jail cell three days after he was charged with three other killings.
Now, officers say they hope to match DNA from the three bodies to DNA submitted by the families of missing persons from all over the nation.
Thew new database is used exclusively to identify unidentified remains. It is kept separate from another database used to collect DNA from offenders and taken from crime scenes. The new database will accept only mitochondrial DNA, which travels through the maternal line and exists in hairs, bones and teeth.
Relatives of missing people voluntarily can submit their DNA into the database for comparison to DNA taken from remains found across the country. The relative's DNA will be kept separate from the criminal database and can be removed at any time, said Jim Iverson, forensic science supervisor at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.