Charge filed in unsolved 2003 burglary based on DNA profile

The Sheboygan (Wisconsin)
BYLINE: Eric Litke, Sheboygan Press staff

Sheboygan, WI

Prosecutors have used a DNA profile to file charges in an unsolved burglary from six years ago, side-stepping the statute of limitations in the first case of its kind in Sheboygan County.

Authorities don't know who committed the burglary - a June 30, 2003, break-in at the Medical Arts Building - but the suspect left behind blood that investigators hope will one day be matched to the burglar. For now, he is identified in a criminal complaint only as John Doe #1."With the advances in technology where we can identify somebody through a unique DNA profile, we know who this unique individual is ... we just can't put a name to the profile," said Assistant District Attorney Chris Stock, who filed the charge with a warrant for the suspect's arrest on Friday. "This allows us to file the complaint against him and hopefully bring him to justice."

The criminal complaint filed Friday lists 14 genetic markers that comprise the burglar's unique DNA, including one that identifies him as a man. He is charged with felony burglary, which carries a maximum prison term of seven and a half years.

The charges were filed now because the six-year statute of limitations for felony cases would have expired Tues-day. Stock said it is the first time charges have been filed in Sheboygan County using a DNA profile without a name, though that is often done in Milwaukee County. "We waited until the last possible moment to file the complaint because of the possibility of it being matched through the databank," Stock said.

The burglar's DNA is now part of an unsolved crimes database at the State Crime Lab that is compared weekly to national databases, one of which is maintained by the FBI. A DNA analysis conducted by the State Crime Lab showed the genetic profile matches DNA found at the scene of two unsolved burglaries in Milwaukee, said Lt. David Schafhauser of the Sheboygan Police Department.

The burglary was discovered about 6:30 a.m. when an employee discovered a broken window the burglar had used to enter the building, according to a criminal complaint. Police found blood on a piece of broken glass, as well as on several walls, a counter top, a television and a set of cabinet doors.

The burglar ransacked numerous offices, an X-ray room and a physical therapy reception area but took only a cash box containing $110. The Medical Arts Building, housed in a building owned by St. Nicholas Hospital at 2920 Superior Ave., houses independent specialists in internal medicine, orthopedics, surgery, pediatrics and physical therapy.

Schafhauser declined to say whether investigators have specific suspects in the case. Police checked local hospitals after the burglary, but no one sought treatment for a significant hand injury.

So for now investigators can only wait. A warrant has been issued for the burglar, and that remains in effect until he is caught. "We're hopeful that someday we'll receive a hit (from the DNA database) and we'll make an arrest," Schafhauser said. Lou Ann Meyer, business administrator for Medical Arts, said she is glad to see the case still active. She recalled coming into work the morning after the burglary and being fearful the burglar might still be in the building. "It's certainly interesting that they're able to keep this case open and bring justice to the person who did this," she said. "I think it's amazing."

In Wisconsin, most convicted felons are required to submit DNA samples, so the man will be identified if he is convicted of another felony in the state.

Reach Eric Litke at (920) 453-5119 and

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