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Cigarette butt DNA leads to local man's arrest

The Daily Record,
BYLINE: BARB OWENS staff writer
Link to Article

Ellensburg, WA

Suspected of using obituaries to target homes

An alleged burglar's discarded cigarette butt and statements about using obituaries to pick his victims landed him in Kittitas County Superior Court Tuesday.

Nicholas Glenn Allemand is accused of residential burglary, second-degree theft and third-degree malicious mischief for allegedly breaking into a deceased man's house last March. He is being held on $150,000 bail.

Kittitas County Prosecutor Greg Zempel read a statement of probable cause, outlining the case against Allemand during a first appearance Tuesday.

On March 4, the Ellensburg Police Department received a report of a burglary. A friend of a deceased man noticed someone had entered the man's house, Zempel said in court.

An inventory of the house revealed that $3,900 to $4,900 in items were stolen, Zempel said. Police processed the home for fingerprints and, noting that no one permitted to be at the house smoked, collected a cigarette butt left in the house. The evidence was submitted to the Washington State Patrol.

Capt. Dan Hansberry of the Ellensburg Police Department said Allemand was already a person of interest in the case.

The WSP Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) laboratory, which generates DNA profiles from convicted offenders for state and national databases, revealed a match on the cigarette butt on May 24, Hansberry said.

Search warrant

The match was not enough information to charge Allemand with a crime, so police got a search warrant to obtain a DNA sample from Allemand and confirm the crime lab's findings.

For more than three months, Allemand could not be located.

On Aug. 30, police found that Allemand was in jail in Yakima on unrelated charges. An Ellensburg police officer went to the Yakima jail and got a DNA sample from Allemand. It wasn't until Dec. 22 that EPD received a comparison from the state crime lab. It showed a match; the odds were 260 trillion to one that it came from Allemand, Zempel said.

Hansberry said four months is a pretty good turnaround on DNA information from the state crime lab, especially for a burglary case.

Witnesses told police that Allemand was bragging about reading obituaries and death notices and then burglarizing the deceased people's homes, Zempel said.

The Daily Record does not publish addresses of people who have died in obituaries.

Allemand has numerous prior convictions, including theft, possession of stolen property, protection order violations, malicious mischief, assault, shoplifting and drug charges, Zempel said.

"Sixty-seven cases," Allemand told Superior Court Judge Scott Sparks.

"He has two more cases in my office, too," Zempel said.

Allemand's arraignment hearing is scheduled for Jan. 17.

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