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DNA match leads to more burglary charges for man in prison

Lincoln Journal Star, journalstar.com
BYLINE: LORI PILGER
Link to Article

Lincoln, NE

2011-06-10_INT_DNA match leads to more burglary charges_01
David R. Morgan (courtesy photo)

Police say they now can put a name to a DNA profile charged in a "John Doe" arrest warrant in December for a 2009 burglary at a downtown hardware store.

And it could be a big arrest, considering the same man's DNA is tied to DNA left behind in eight more break-ins, mostly in the Grand Island area, police say in court records filed this week.

David R. Morgan, 35, already is in prison in Lincoln and was sent there on an 8- to 12-year stretch out of Hall County for possession of Lortab -- a narcotic pain reliever -- with intent to deliver and possession of burglar's tools.

That appears to be just the start of Morgan's legal troubles.

To date, he faces six separate burglary charges, one in Lancaster County and five in Hall County.

He is suspected in a Nov. 30, 2009, burglary at Baker Hardware, 801 N St.

In Grand Island, he is suspected of one Jan. 10, 2011, at a Subway; Oct. 31, 2010, USA Steak Buffet; June 30, 2008, First Brokers; July 1, 2008, Century 21; and Sept. 27, 2008, Ace Hardware.

Hall County prosecutors charged Morgan in May, about two months after Grand Island police sought a warrant for a swab of his DNA.

In it, an investigator said police were able to get DNA in the break-in at USA Steak Buffet, inside Century 21 and at Hometown Market in St. Paul, a town north of Grand Island.

"These burglaries are being linked together because the same DNA profile has been developed off of evidence found at the individual crime scenes," Grand Island Police Officer L.J. McConnell wrote in court records.

Another officer had taken down Morgan's plate number after spotting it at about 3:30 a.m. Oct. 31 near the USA Steak Buffet. The burglary wasn't discovered until later that morning.

Meanwhile, in Lincoln last December, Lancaster County prosecutors filed a rare John Doe arrest warrant against a DNA profile and waited for a match to clear a Nov. 30, 2009, burglary at the downtown hardware store.

Police said an employee arrived to find the loading dock garage door open and loaded shopping carts filled with merchandise.

Someone had pried open a door to get inside, sprayed paint over security cameras, stolen the video recording system, rummaged through offices and file cabinets and used power tools and saw blades to cut into a safe.

The total loss in merchandise and cash was estimated at $20,000.

In affidavits for arrest warrants, Lincoln Police Investigator Christopher Milisits said officers found DNA thought to have been left behind by the burglars.

Investigators collected the DNA on swabs and sent them to the state lab.

A year later, police got a report that the lab was able to get DNA from two men, but the profiles didn't match any in CODIS, the national DNA database.

On March 10, Lincoln police said it was the DNA McConnell got from Morgan in Grand Island, with a signed court order in March, that came back as a match to DNA on the evidence left behind in Lincoln.

A warrant was issued for Morgan's arrest in the case on Monday.

The second suspect has not been identified yet.

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