PHOENIX (CN) – The Phoenix Police Department waited for months to process DNA evidence that would have identified the “Baseline Killer” sooner and prevented the deaths of two victims, their families claim. Alleged serial killer Mark Goudeau, was able to “remain unincarcerated and to continue his killing spree, causing the deaths of Romelia Vargas and Sophia Nunez,” the families claim in Maricopa County Court.
Alvin Hogue, Vargas’s husband, and Maria Nunez, Sophia Nunez’s sister, say the Police Department’s crime laboratory gathered DNA evidence on two swabs from a Sept. 20, 2005 double rape of two sisters from “the perpetrator of the criminal act, later identified as defendant Goudeau.”
The lab allegedly performed an analysis on one of the swabs, which showed a partial DNA profile – insufficient evidence to identify a suspect with the DNA technology the lab used.
The crime lab decided not to test the second swab at that time, or to send it to the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s lab for analysis, the complaint states. The DPS lab had Y-STR DNA testing technology at the time, which better detects male DNA than the equipment the crime lab was using.
The Phoenix Police Department’s decision to store the swabs for several months “caused a delay in identifying defendant Goudeau as the perpetrator,” according to the complaint.
The department “did not timely provide the information that defendant Goudeau was a suspect to a lab or the DPS Lab, in conjunction with the DNA samples in defendants’ possession, to allow the lab to do a timely comparison of the DNA of the unknown suspect taken from the rape victims to the DNA on file for defendant Goudeau, by subjecting both the unknown DNA sample and the DNA sample on file of defendant Goudeau to Y-STR testing and then doing a comparison of the results of the two tests,” according to the complaint.
The police crime lab “outsourced a significant amount of scientific testing work to DPS, but … decided not to ask DPS for help with the evidence from the September 2005 sexual assault. Instead, a decision was made to hold onto the swabs and delay testing until defendant crime lab could conduct Y-STR testing itself.”
Phoenix’s “Baseline Killer” allegedly committed nine murders, 15 sexual assaults and 11 kidnappings from 2005 to 2006. Goudeau was sentenced to 438 years for the September 2005 double rape and is awaiting trial on 74 other charges.
The families seek funeral expenses and damages for wrongful death. They are represented by Marc J. Victor of Chandler.