Backlog in DNA testing angers relatives of Illinois victims

Illinois State Police are responding to angry complaints from relatives of murder victims who say backlogs at state crime labs are helping killers get away with murder.

Crime lab officials said it could take up to five years to reduce the current backlog of over 13,000 cases.

“I will not allow my son to become a cold case file with a number, because he was mine,” said Carmia Tang.

In September of 2017, Tang's 20-year-old son Jeremy was shot and killed on the Far South Side. On Monday, she told an Illinois Senate committee that his case is among the more than 750 Chicago murders where the DNA analysis is still incomplete.

“The year my son was killed, for the Lollapalooza concert, they spent half a million dollars to clean and restore the park. A half a million dollars! But they don’t have enough money to process DNA from 766 murders?” Tang said.

State police told Senator Patricia Van Pelt that the latest crime lab numbers statewide show an overall backlog of 13,390. Those are cases which have been at the lab for over 30 days. Three-thousand-six-hundred and ninety-one of those are waiting for DNA analysis. The others include drugs or weapons analysis.

Last Fall, when FOX 32’s Mike Flannery raised questions about the backlog, state police downplayed the problem. On Monday, they admitted that budget and hiring issues have helped create the backlog.

“We did have a period of time with the budget impasse that made it a little more challenging to get things done. Vendors did shut off. We found ways around it. We had to work very closely with vendors. Did we have any vendors that did shut us off? Yes,” said Col. Sean Cormier.

When FOX 32 News first raised questions about the backlog, State Senator Tom Cullerton and Representative David McSweeney promised hearings soon. So the state police can expect more questions.