The use of DNA technology has resulted in arrests in a residential burglary that occurred in September of last year and an unrelated armed robbery that took place in January, Cape Coral police officials reported Friday.
The first incident was reported on Sept. 17, 2012. A burglar had entered a home on Hopefield Court and made off with a flat-panel TV, expensive sunglasses and various electronics. He had cut himself while making entry through a broken window, officials said.
Forensics personnel with the Cape Coral Police Department collected a few small droplets of blood that were left behind. The blood evidence was submitted to CODIS, the FBI's Combined DNA Identification System.
Michael Anthony Zeff
CODIS is a database of DNA profiles of offenders.
Detectives were subsequently informed that there was a match to the submitted sample.
The DNA resulted identified the blood as that of Michael Anthony Zeff, 28, of North Fort Myers. Detectives now had probable cause to arrest Zeff in connection with the burglary.
He was located in the Lee County Jail, where he was due to unrelated charges, and arrested for burglary of a dwelling and grand theft on June 6.
The second incident happened on Jan. 15. Officers were called to an armed robbery at the Hess Station at 1020 Santa Barbara Blvd. The clerk reported that a man had entered the store and robbed them at gunpoint. The robber, who was wearing gloves and had his face covered, made off with $56 cash.
Officers scoured the area and found a pickup truck leaving the neighborhood behind the Hess store. Upon contact with the occupants of the truck, officers noted that the passenger, Robert McDougall, 22, of Cape Coral, was acting very nervous, was sweating profusely and his hands were shaking, officials said. The driver and McDougall reportedly gave conflicting accounts as to why they were behind a business at 2:30 a.m. The driver and McDougall were arrested for loitering and prowling.
Both men denied any involvement in the armed robbery that had occurred moments earlier.
Several hours later in that day, a neighbor called police to report that she had found clothing and gloves in her yard, which is close to the Hess station.
The clothing and gloves were the same as described in the robbery, officials said.
The clothes and gloves were taken by Forensics and processed for evidence. The inside of the gloves were swabbed for DNA and the sample was submitted to the FDLE crime lab for comparison to McDougall and his companion on the early morning of Jan. 15.
On May 15, the results from the lab returned and it was determined that the DNA sample submitted was a match for Robert McDougall, officials said. Detectives now had probable cause to arrest him for the armed robbery.
McDougall was in the Lee County Jail on unrelated charges when Cape Coral Police detectives arrested him June 8 on charges of robbery with a firearm.
"These cases prove that DNA science can have an impact on solving crime," said police spokesperson Lt. Tony Sizemore, adding the ability to use "scientific crime fighting tools" was key to making the arrests. "The US Supreme Court's decision earlier this week about DNA collection coupled with talented officers, detectives and forensics personnel will have a noticeable impact on crimes here in Cape Coral."
Source: Cape Coral Police Department