DNA on Pizza Crust Nails Killer
No matter how smart criminals think they are, someone else is smarter.
Daron Dylon Wint, suspected murderer, thought he was careful when wore gloves as he ate a pizza at his victims' home. Little did he know, he was leaving behind a much more powerful identifier than fingerprints.
He left his DNA.
The Murder and Arson
Earlier this month, Washington D.C. police responded to a home fire after four bodies were found inside. Savvas Savopoulos, his wife Amy, their 10-year-old son Phillip, and the family housekeeper Veralicia Figueroa were dead.
Police suspected arson and murder for money. The suspicion grew when they discovered that Savopoulos' personal assistant had dropped off $40,000 in cash at the mansion shortly before the fire. A blue Porsche, missing from the home, was found later, abandoned and burned. A second housekeeper received a mysterious message telling her not to show up for work.
Inside the house, the victims were found bound by duct tape. All four were killed by blunt force trauma before the fire was set. However, the saddest revelation of all, 10-year-old Phillip showed signs of torture. Police believe the murderer tortured Phillip to get Savvas to turn over the $40,000 in cash.
After the grisly discovery, police conducted a nationwide manhunt, but they had all the evidence they needed inside the house already.
Shortly before the fire, Domino's delivered two pizzas to the Savopoulos home. During their investigation, police found a half eaten pizza crust with a bite mark in it. From the crust, they were able to extract DNA, build a profile, and compare it to samples in a database to find a match.
While DNA may be hard to extract from hair or skin cells on clothing, saliva is an abundant source of DNA. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was able to extract DNA and match it to Daron Dylon Wint. Luckily for investigators, he was in the database for previous convictions. Had he not already been in the database, authorities would not have had anybody to match the DNA to.
Wint has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder. If convicted, he faces a minimum of 30 years and up to life without parole in prison. However, in Washington D.C., if prosecutors want to argue for a sentence of 60 years or more, they will have to prove, at a separate sentencing hearing, certain aggravating circumstances such as kidnapping or abduction, murder for hire, or that the murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel.
Considering the fact that the victims were held as hostages, and Phillip was tortured for money, there is a good chance that prosecutors will argue for a harsh sentence.
- 'Pizza' Suspect Arrested in D.C. Quadruple Murder (Newsweek)
- Beard DNA Test Leads to Arrest, 1 Year After Burglary (FindLaw's Legally Weird)
- SCOTUS: No Warrant Needed for DNA Swab of Arrestee (FindLaw's Decided)
- Doo-Doo DNA Testing Flushes Out Alleged Burglar (FindLaw's Legally Weird)