A prime suspect in the 1973 rape and slaying of a Bowie teenager was ordered today to turn over a vial of his blood so it could be tested against multiple DNA samples found on the victim's brutalized body.
A New York judge ruled that papers submitted by Anne Arundel County prosecutors presented enough evidence to compel a 46-year-old graduate of Bowie High School to submit his blood for testing.
The man, an 11-year resident of Syracuse who is married, has three daughters and handles customer service calls for a Syracuse cable television franchise, had refused a request to provide a blood sample. He has not been arrested or charged in the crime, and his name was not revealed during the court hearing.
Anne Arundel investigators, who began working on the case 26 years ago when hunters found 17-year-old Donna Lee Dustin in a culvert near Odenton, said they hoped the DNA test would shed new light on one of the county's most perplexing mysteries.
"We wanted to get this ruling in our favor," said David H. Cordle, chief investigator for the Anne Arundel state's attorney's office, who did not attend yesterday's hearing. "This will give us valuable information."
An attorney for the suspect, however, said it was "frightening" that his client would have to give up his DNA sample.
The police have forced his client into a corner, said Syracuse defense attorney James C. Hopkins III. He must either allow the government to collect his DNA, or refuse and be tarred with suspicion.
"This is not simple blood typing," he told the judge yesterday. "My client's entire genetic history, what some people refer to as his genetic diary, would be exposed."
Two years ago, a tip prompted Anne Arundel County investigators to reopen their long-dormant investigation into Dustin's gruesome slaying. According to court records filed in New York, they first became interested in the man and a second suspect, who now lives in Orlando, a few months ago. In their appeal to the court, prosecutors explained why the two men are suspects.
According to the court papers, the two men were at the same party as Dustin late on the night of her death--the last time she was seen alive by other witnesses--and the Syracuse man offered contradictory statements about having met Dustin two weeks earlier. During the initial investigation, the two men told investigators that they had been driving around looking for women that night and had bottles of Schlitz beer in their car. Caps from Schlitz beer had been recovered at Dustin's house in Bowie, where she was believed to have gone immediately before the slaying.
The court filing also says that the Florida man has an extensive history of sexual offenses. Autopsy and crime scene evidence pointed to multiple attackers, and co-workers of the Florida man recalled him stumbling in to work the next morning, dressed in the same slacks and sport coat he had been wearing the previous night, only that morning the clothes were covered with briers, dirt and dark stains. The Florida man has not been arrested or charged in the case.
In his ruling, the judge dispensed with Hopkins's concern that his client's privacy would be invaded because the DNA sample could be used by the government for other purposes. Judge Joseph Fahey stipulated that the blood sample be destroyed should investigators conclude that the suspect's DNA does not match the evidence recovered at the scene.
The judge offered Hopkins a week to file an appeal. Cordle said he plans to travel to Syracuse to collect the sample next week.