Thomas Wright
Thomas Wright

(Jay County, IN) -10-16-18- Legislation which took effect on January 1, 2018, and requires every person who is arrested for a felony offense to provide a DNA sample, is credited with helping to solve a theft case which originated ironically enough, back in January of this year.

An investigation by Indiana State Police Crime Scene Investigator, Sergeant John Petro was initiated on January 26, 2018 after he was contacted by Loy Auctioneering and Real Estate.  They reported to Petro that a trailer belonging to them was taken from the Jay County Fairgrounds sometime between January 23 and January 25, 2018.  The trailer, which was used to haul personal property to the fairgrounds for a public auction, had already been unloaded and parked at the fairgrounds at the time it was stolen.

On January 28, 2018 Petro was notified by authorities in Delaware County that the trailer had been located in a church parking lot.  Petro processed the trailer for fingerprints and DNA evidence.  Potential DNA evidence was submitted to the Fort Wayne Regional Laboratory and on July 23, 2018 an unknown DNA profile was developed and entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).

According to Petro, one week later on July 30, 2018, he learned of a possible DNA match from the CODIS database between then 22 year old Thomas L. Wright of Redkey, Indiana and the sample collected from the stolen trailer.  Petro later obtained a search warrant to collect Wright’s DNA for comparison.  During this time, Wright was interviewed as part of the investigatory process.

At the conclusion of the investigation, Petro presented his case to the Jay County Prosecutor’s Office and an arrest warrant was issued for one count of Theft, a Level 6 Felony.  Wright, now 23 years of age, was arrested and incarcerated in the Jay County Jail.

Petro noted that Wright had been arrested by the Jay County Sheriff Department back on April 30, 2018 for an unrelated trailer theft.  As a result of that arrest, Wright provided a DNA sample as required by the newly enacted legislation, which was then entered into CODIS.  “This is a simple case that spotlights the process between a criminal complaint, an investigation, laboratory services, the CODIS system, and the recent legislation of collecting felony arrestee DNA samples”, commented Petro.