KBI Mistake

By: Eric James
By: Eric James

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The director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation accepts responsibility for a botched DNA report, which may have led to the death of a Wichita woman.

Douglas Belt is charged with the murder and decapitiation of Lucille Gallegos. He's also charged with rape in several Kansas counties, as well as another state.

The DNA test itself was done correctly, but the employee who did the test made a huge mistake by not putting the right name on the results.

KBI Director Larry Welsh says, "We discovered what appears to have been a simple but serious mistake."

A mistake, which took 12 years to correct, may have contributed to the murder of a Wichita woman, and the alleged rapes of four women.

Welsh says, "We routinely expect excellence and we expect success. This time we fell short."

Belt's DNA was first submitted in 1991 following the alleged rape of a McPherson County woman. The lab technician mislabeled the results by placing a different name on them.

Belt had to submit a new DNA sample following a burglary conviction in 2001, but it wasn't tested until after Lucille Gallegos' murder.

KBI says the test results from the murder scene matched Belt's sample. When they crosschecked the sample with other cases, investigators say they discovered Belt's DNA matched seven unsolved rape cases in three Kansas counties, and a case in Illinois. All happened between 1989 and 1994.

Welsh says, "Had we not made this error he may have been caught earlier and possibly other crimes may have been prevented."

The KBI director says this is an isolated case, a human error, and no other cases of mislabeled information has been discovered.

The employee who made the mistake is under review. Withini the next six months a new electronic system will be in place at the KBI which they say will not allow an error of this type to happen again.

The KBI is currently up for re-accreditation, and outside auditors are doing an investigation.

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