Casting a wider net: Target 2 Investigates expanded DNA search

MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - A change in the way scientists look at DNA is being credited for leading Brown County investigators to a suspect in a two-year old murder.

In September, Anthony Kitchenakow was arrested and charged with 1st Degree Intentional Homicide for the 2016 shooting death of Suzette Langlois. On Aug. 29, 2016, Langlois, 52, was found shot to death in the driveway of her home at 3020 Manitowoc Road in Bellevue.

Days before Kitchenakow's arrest, the Wisconsin State Crime Lab received a DNA hit from a gun magazine found in Suzette Langlois's car. The DNA matched Anthony Kitchenakow, according to a criminal complaint.

Target 2 Investigates traveled to the State Crime Lab in Madison to find out how scientists are using this expanded search protocol to get closer to a true match.

EXPANDED SEARCH

"The FBI mandated that by January 1st of 2017, we had to have an expanded kit online for all crime labs that were utilizing CODIS," says Jenn Naugle, Deputy Director, Wisconsin Crime Lab Bureau.

That's how it all all started. An order from the FBI expanded how much DNA analysts search in profiles entered in the National DNA Database -- also known as CODIS.

Wisconsin Crime Lab analysts tell Target 2 there are a few hundred-thousand DNA profiles in Wisconsin's database. There are millions in the national files.

In Wisconsin, analysts went from searching 15 genetic markers--or locations on a DNA strand--to searching 20.

SEARCH FOR A TRUE MATCH

With more DNA coming in every day, there's a need to look at more parts of the DNA to increase the certainty of a true match.

Analysts are identifying new markers on a DNA profile they weren't looking at before. A prime example: the Anthony Kitchenakow case.

"If you cast a wider net, sometimes what you drudge up is a lot of junk. And so we were willing to take that chance and say, OK, we might be looking at a few more no-matches. But if we actually end up seeing some hits that we might not have previously seen, that's a benefit," Naugle says. "And this case just happened to fall into that category."

Because it is an ongoing case, analysts couldn't specifically discuss the Kitckenakow DNA search.

Tonight on Action 2 News at 10, Target 2 Investigates the science and math behind making a DNA match and now the new search upgrade may soon include international profiles.