DNA on water bottle links woman to burglary

Posted at 4:55 PM, Mar 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-31 23:35:09-04

It was June when a home on Rainbow Drive was burglarized.  Someone took two large knives and a jar of change.

But, an unassuming clue led detectives to their criminal. That clue?  A water bottle left inside of the home.

"We had no luck with fingerprints on this case. So DNA was the lynch-pin for us," Sgt. Tim Downes, Clearwater Police, said.

Sgt. Downes says the woman took a bottle of water out of the refrigerator and took a drink. 

"We had that swabbed for DNA," he added.

That was nine months ago.

It took five months for the DNA to get analyzed in the lab and another four months for the results to run through a national database. Eventually they got a hit.

The suspect is 26-year-old Melinda Casmir.

"As the science has improved, our collection methods have improved, the price has gone down and we're able to get more items collected and tested for DNA," Sgt. Downes said.

Downes says they're using DNA more and more.

In a push to curb rising burglaries, DNA testing is a key component. He says there is a backlog, so it can take months to get results back from the lab. Still, the technology is helping detective solve crimes large and small.