‘A new beginning’: Man convicted of murder in the ’90s exonerated thanks to genetic genealogy

first_imgZinkevych/iStock(IDAHO FALLS, Idaho) — In the 1990s, Christopher Tapp was sent to prison for the rape and murder of Idaho teen Angie Dodge.Despite his DNA not matching evidence found at the crime scene, he was still convicted based on the theory that multiple people were involved in the crime.On Wednesday, after decades of proclaiming his innocence and claiming his confession was coerced, Tapp was finally exonerated due to the novel DNA technique of genetic genealogy, which was used to find identify a new suspect in Dodge’s murder.Stepping out of the courthouse, Tapp told reporters, “I hope that things get learned from this mistake and I hope things get changed.”“I’m glad I was able to come out the other end and still smile and still be happy,” he said.“I accepted the fact that I was gonna be a convicted felon,” Tapp said. “Now I don’t ever have to worry about that. It’s a new life, a new beginning, a new world for me. And I’m just gonna enjoy it every day.”Tapp added, “I hope nobody ever forgets Angie Dodge.”Mystery DNA and a coerced confessionThe case dates back to June 13, 1996, when 18-year-old Dodge was raped and killed in her Idaho Falls apartment.Semen and hair was collected at the scene and DNA testing showed they belonged to the same suspect, according to the Idaho Falls Police. Detectives canvassed the neighborhood in their search for the killer, but to no avail.In January 1997, Tapp, then a 20-year-old living in Idaho Falls, confessed to being involved in the rape and murder, according to authorities.His DNA didn’t match the semen and hair samples but police said “an existing theory was that multiple people were involved and Tapp was suspected to have been one of those people.”Tapp — a “kid” “scared for his life” — sat through nine interrogations, his attorney, John Thomas, told ABC News.“Tapp’s confession matched details from the crime scene and included assertions that he had not acted alone,” said police. “Based on his confessions, knowledge of the crime, and other facts that supported a theory that multiple people had been involved in the rape and murder, Tapp was convicted in 1998 by a jury.”No information from Tapp — who is now 43 — led to more arrests or the person who left behind DNA, police added.A proclamation of innocenceIn 2001, Tapp said his confession was coerced and that he was innocent, but Idaho’s supreme court affirmed the conviction, police said. The Idaho Innocence Project took up Tapp’s case as one of their first and pushed for his exoneration.Tapp filed several petitions for post-conviction relief over the years, and in 2017, while a petition was pending, he made a plea deal to amend his sentence.To secure the deal, Thomas presented new DNA evidence and argued that Tapp’s confession was coerced.In 1997, after being “coerced and pressured” by investigators, Tapp told police he held Dodge down by her wrists during the rape and murder, Thomas said. Dodge’s hands were swabbed for DNA but were not tested until 2016; that test found DNA was only present from Dodge and the killer — not Tapp, said Thomas. It was unclear why the evidence wasn’t tested at the time.In the 2017 deal, the rape conviction was vacated, Tapp’s murder sentence was reduced to time served and he was freed, said Thomas.New technology finds a new suspectIdaho Falls police say the search for the mystery suspect who left DNA at the crime scene never stopped in the years after Dodge’s killing.In November 2018, police turned to genetic genealogy.Genetic genealogy — a novel technique that compares unknown DNA evidence to public genetic databases to identify suspects through their family members — has been called a “game-changer” in the effort to crack cold cases.Since the arrest of the suspected “Golden State Killer” in April 2018, about 70 suspects have been identified through the technology, according to CeCe Moore, the chief genealogist at Parabon NanoLabs, which investigated the Dodge murder among others.Moore, who also appeared as an expert in ABC News “20/20” episodes, said she started building family trees of people who shared DNA with the unknown suspect and with each other, and found where those intersected in one marriage. She was spurred on by Dodge’s mother who inspired her to push thru this case even though it was so difficult.“I knew the suspect had to be a descendant of that marriage, so I narrowed it down to six men who were descendants of that couple. And five of the six on that list lived over 1,000 miles away, didn’t have any connection to Idaho that we could find. One of them did live in Idaho,” Moore told ABC News.In February, investigators surveilled the man who lived in Idaho, obtaining a wad of discarded chewing tobacco from him, said police.That man not only was not a match to the DNA at the crime scene, but he was also found not to be close relative to the suspect, Moore said.While Moore felt like she “was back to square one,” she said she also was “aware of the fact there could be a missing descendant.”Moore remembered that one of the men in the family had gotten married early and then divorced. While there didn’t appear to be a child from the marriage, she thought it was possible that a child was born shortly after they separated.“I went back to my research and tried to find what happened to that woman… we finally found her by finding her mother’s obituary, which listed her current name and listed a son,” Moore said.It turns out Moore’s hunch was correct — that son was from the first marriage but carried his stepfather’s last name — Dripps.In May, detectives went to Caldwell, Idaho, to investigate Brian Dripps Sr.Investigators recovered a cigarette butt Dripps threw out of his car window — and the DNA on the cigarette butt was found to be a match to the semen and hair at the crime scene, police said.As it turned out, Dripps lived across the street from Dodge when she was killed. Detectives even spoke to him five days after the slaying during a neighborhood canvass, police said.But he moved away from Idaho Falls the year of the murder, police said.Dripps, 53, was arrested on May 15 and charged with Dodge’s murder and rape, police said. In a police interview, once confronted with the DNA evidence, he admitted to the crime and said he went into Dodge’s apartment alone.Dripps has not entered a plea and his attorney did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment. He has a motion hearing set for Thursday and a preliminary hearing on Aug. 7.Also, in May of this year, a key witness in the case reportedly recanted her testimony, according to the Post-Register newspaper.‘The power of genetic genealogy’Tapp, who was released from prison in 2017, is married and working at a local plastic bag factory, his lawyer said.“He’s doing well,” his lawyer, Thomas told ABC News on Tuesday, but getting back his family’s name will mean a lot to him.“It is a huge thing for him and his mom. They’re the last two Tapps of his particular line,” he said. “He hasn’t had any children. He’s an only child for his mom.”“It’s hard for me to fathom or believe it still,” Tapp told ABC News hours before the exoneration hearing. “For me it’s just the disappointment I’ve received over the last 22.5 years…. I just didn’t know what was gonna happen, if the state or the judge or anybody would do the right thing.”On Wednesday afternoon, a judge approved prosecutors’ motion for post-conviction relief, making Tapp the first person to be exonerated for murder thanks to genetic genealogy, said Moore.Bonneville County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Clark said he believed there was clear and convincing evidence of Tapp’s innocence.Tapp was accused of helping with the murder, not being the sole killer, and Clark says investigators believe Dripps’ alleged confession was to acting alone.Ethically “my obligation is to remedy that conviction,” Clark told ABC News before the hearing. “That’s a very sobering thing to be involved in, no doubt.”Moore called Tapp’s case a highlight of her career.“I’m more excited and exhilarated about this than I think anything else. It’s just such an incredible feeling to be a part of clearing an innocent man’s name,” she said.Moore believes genetic genealogy will help with more exonerations going forward.“There’s been so much focus put on arresting the violent criminals — which is very important — but I always thought there wasn’t enough attention put on the fact that when we do that, we’re clearing a lot of other potential persons of interest, or even suspects,” Moore said.“So it’s been less formal with all the other cases, but there are many other cases where people’s names have been cleared thanks to genetic genealogy, people who have carried burdens for years,” she said. “So I think this is very important to demonstrate the power of genetic genealogy, not just to convict people, but also to exonerate.”Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Man paralyzed after crash in Elkhart Friday

first_imgIndianaLocalNews Twitter By Brooklyne Beatty – July 24, 2020 0 699 Pinterest Facebook Man paralyzed after crash in Elkhart Friday Pinterest TAGSCounty Road 22County Road 28crashElkhartIndianaparalyzed Facebookcenter_img Google+ Twitter (95.3 MNC) A man has been paralyzed from the waist down after a crash in Elkhart County.The crash happened early Friday morning, just past 1:30, on County Road 22 south of County Road 28.Police report a Chevrolet Impala was traveling northbound when it went off the roadway, lost control and rolled into a field, ejecting the driver.The driver was airlifted to a local hospital. In addition to being paralyzed, he’s potentially facing additional injuries.No other vehicles were involved in the crash. WhatsApp Google+ WhatsApp Previous articleVice President Mike Pence to return to Indiana on FridayNext articleFood Bank of Northern Indiana releases mobile food distribution schedule, July 27-30 Brooklyne Beattylast_img read more

Permit contact

first_imgThe Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission needs updated contact information for farmers who use irrigation in the Suwannee and Ochlockonee watershed in south-central Georgia. The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension can help provide it, says a UGA water specialist.Farmers there and across the state are required to place meters on their permitted wells to tally their water usage, said Kerry Harrison, a UGA Extension irrigation engineer. If the SWCC can catch up with them, the state will cover the cost ($1,000 per meter per well).The SWCC generally sends postcards to permit holders a year ahead to let them know about the meter installations in an area, he said. It’s now time to mail those cards to farmers in the Suwannee and Ochlockonee region.The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has an estimated 9,000 permits in the area. All contain contact addresses, but most are outdated rural-route numbers, he said. Those have since been changed to Emergency 911 addresses. But the changes were never shared with DNR.The SWCC wants the updated contact information for at least half the permit holders in the area by June 30. In 2003, UGA Extension agents within the Flint River Basin in southwest Georgia helped with a similar process. Less rushed, the update there took about four years to complete, Harrison said.Funding for this initiative was approved in late January. Depending on the actual number of updated contacts, the initiative will cost between $750,000 and $1.2 million. The money will pay for extra work hours and tools the county agents will need. “The agents already have full plates,” Harrison said. “They need extra resources to get this done within the time frame.”Along with updating addresses, UGA Extension agents will locate the water withdrawal site for each permit. That information will be given to Albany State University in Albany, Ga., to map the area irrigated with the permit.”The use of water in agricultural crop production is a very important element to ensure yields and subsequent farm profits,” Harrison said. “Hopefully, this effort to update agricultural permit contact information will not intrude on any farming operation.”UGA Extension covers information delivery from the UGA colleges of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Family and Consumer Sciences to all 159 Georgia counties. Almost all counties have offices.The same system can be used to provide another government agency information, too, especially one that wants to improve lives or save folks money, Harrison said.Government agencies work best when they pool resources to aid Georgia citizens, he said. But the bureaucratic process can seem muddled, if not comical at times.”Hello, I’m with the gov’ment, and I’m here to help,” Harrison has joked about the initiative and the process when explaining it at meetings. But the initiative is serious. It’s sparked by the “Water Wars,” a decade-old negotiation between Georgia, Alabama and Florida over shared water rights.One skirmish in 2003 resulted in Georgia House Bill 579. It called for all agricultural water users to have a meter installed by 2009. The SWCC was given the task of implementing the metering program.”This effort is being undertaken so agriculture’s right to continue to use water in Georgia will be understood by other users of water in the state,” Harrison said.last_img read more

Global equity markets crash on virus fears, oil prices plunge

first_imgRead also: Oil plunges about 30% after Saudi Arabia slashes prices, opens tapsDriving the declines was a ferocious sell-off in the oil markets, sparked by top exporter Saudi Arabia slashing prices – in some cases to unprecedented levels – after a bust-up with Russia over production.Both main oil contracts – which had already been under pressure over falling demand caused by the virus – dived around 30 percent, marking the worst drop since the 1991 Gulf War and the second biggest fall on record, according to Bloomberg News.Saudi equities tanked more than nine percent with oil titan Aramco losing 10 percent. Dubai and Kuwait sank a similar amount, while Abu Dhabi equities were almost eight percent down.Saudi Arabia launched an all-out oil war Sunday with the biggest cut in its prices in the past 20 years, Bloomberg News reported, after OPEC and its allies failed to clinch a deal to reduce output. A meeting of main producers was expected to agree to deeper cuts to counter the impact of the coronavirus — but Moscow refused to tighten supply.In response, Riyadh slashed its price for April delivery by $4-$6 a barrel to Asia and $7 to the United States. Russia’s decision not to comply had already battered prices and there are warnings they could continue to drive lower towards $20 if the two sides do not reach an agreement. “Something like this could have more global repercussions than a trade war between China and the US because oil touches so many things in the world economy,” said Rohitesh Dhawan, director of energy, climate and resources at Eurasia Group in London.Energy firms hammeredJeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA, said: “Saudi Arabia seems intent on punishing Russia.”Oil prices… will likely be capped over the next few months as coronavirus stalls economic growth, and Saudi Arabia opens the pumps and offers huge discounts on its crude grades.”Energy firms were slammed, with Hong Kong-listed CNOOC tumbling 17 percent and PetroChina down more than nine percent, while in Tokyo, Inpex dived 13 percent. In Sydney, Santos dived 27 percent and Woodside Petroleum tanked 18.4 percent, while BHP was more than 14 percent down.”Plummeting oil prices and spreading coronavirus are fanning fears of downside risks to the global economy,” said Takuya Kanda, at Gaitame.com Research Institute.Foreign exchange markets were also extremely volatile, with traders snapping up the yen — seen as a hedge against global instability — and selling off the dollar owing to uncertainty over the coronavirus in the United States.Read also: Panic selling hits Indonesia, Philippine stocks set for bear runMarito Ueda, senior trader at FX Prime, told AFP: “Fears over the virus’s impact on the global economy and a plummet in US yields had investors seeking the safe-haven yen.””It is essentially a flight from the dollar,” he added. The greenback fell below 103 yen, levels not seen since the third quarter of 2016.Currencies of countries that rely on oil cash were among the worst hit, with Russia’s ruble almost six percent lower, Australia’s dollar diving five percent at one point and Mexico’s peso also down five percent.  Analysts warned of further gyrations as the outbreak shows no sign of abating, with more than 110,000 people infected in scores of countries. Italy, which is now the hardest-hit country outside China, has put a quarter of its population in lockdown, while sporting and public events around the world have been cancelled.”You just don’t know which way things are going to go, it makes it very hard to price anything right now,” said Sarah Hunter, chief economist for BIS Oxford Economics, on Bloomberg TV. “We’re seeing that in the market with the wild oscillations that are coming through.”Topics : Trading floors were a sea of red, with Tokyo plunging more than five percent, while Hong Kong dived 4.2 percent. Sydney shed 7.3 percent.Bangkok crashed more than eight percent, Singapore and Jakarta were more than five percent down. Manila and Mumbai lost more than six percent, while Shanghai, Taipei and Wellington were around three percent down.London and Frankfurt plunged more than eight percent at the open, while Paris retreated 4.2 percent.The losses followed sharp falls in Europe and Wall Street on Friday. Equity markets collapsed Monday as the rapidly spreading coronavirus fans fears for the global economy, while a crash in oil prices added to the panic with energy firms taking a hammering and wiping hundreds of billions off valuations.As the deadly disease claims more lives around the world, dealers are shedding riskier assets for safe havens, sending gold and the yen surging and pushing US Treasury yields to record lows.While governments and central banks have unleashed or prepared stimulus measures, the spread of COVID-19 is putting a huge strain on economies and stoking concerns of a worldwide recession.last_img read more

Netherlands roundup: Textile scheme MITT to temporarily reduce accrual to avoid cuts

first_imgMITT, the €3.2bn Dutch pension fund for the textile sector, said it wanted to temporarily reduce annual pensions accrual from 1.6% to 1.5% in order to minimise the chance of rights cuts in 2021.It explained that the measure would set the scheme on a course to a funding of 100% at 2020-end.The pension fund had to come up with a new contribution proposal after it had charged a premium of 24% of the pensionable salary in the past five years.“Continuing the current arrangements is likely to lead to a coverage ratio of 99% at the end of next year, which would mean a 1% cut if the minimum required funding were to be 100%,” explained Gaby Lammers, the pension fund’s chair. “Preventing this is very important. As we need to raise our contribution to a costs-covering level, and also must factor in lower future returns on investments, we already expected a significant premium rise for 2021,” he pointed out.The contribution increase must enable annual pensions accrual to return to 1.6%.Recently, social affairs’ minister Wouter Koolmees decided to temporarily reduce the minimum required funding to 90% in order to avoid a reduction of pension rights and pensions pending the elaboration of the pensions agreement set in June.In the direct wake of the accord, the minister had already decided to decrease the minimum required coverage from 104.3% to 100% for the same reason.Aegon to switch to IDC plan for its staffDutch insurer Aegon has confirmed that it wants to switch pensions accrual for its 3,800 staff from an insured plan to individual defined contribution (IDC) arrangements.It said continuing the current insured pension plan – carried out by the sponsor – was no longer affordable.The trade unions as well as the central works council (COR) have approved the plan.The unions said the employer had declined to discuss the alternatives suggested by them, including joining a consolidation vehicle (APF) or an industry-wide pension fund.Aegon, which has a low-cost defined contribution vehicle – Aegon Cappital – said it hadn’t yet completed the selection process for a new provider.The recent negotiations between Aegon and the unions in particular focussed on the compensation of workers for the shift of risks to staff.Although Aegon insisted that it would come up with a compensation deal, it declined to provide details.Trade union De Unie, in turn, said its members weren’t very satisfied with the compensation proposal, but they had agreed because it was the best result achievable.The new IDC plan is to come with an age-dependent contribution.last_img read more

Men’s basketball: Badgers take down Houston Baptist in overwhelming fashion 96-59

first_imgThe University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team flirted with a 100-point offensive performance as they beat Houston Baptist University 96–59 at the Kohl Center Saturday.The home team was never really threatened as the Badgers had a 19-point lead only 10 minutes into the contest which never wavered.Wisconsin’s big men Ethan Happ and Nate Reuvers led the way early on the offensive end — their dominance inside resulted in 54 points in the paint.Happ and Reuvers both finished with 15 points, a career-high for Reuvers.“It’s always fun to score points but I’ve just got to do what this team needs,” Reuvers said. “I’ll have times when I’ll get a bunch of looks and other times when I won’t, but I’ve just got to take advantage of those.”Men’s basketball: Badgers look to exploit mismatches in game versus Houston BaptistThe University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team will welcome Houston Baptist to the Kohl Center for their match tomorrow night. The Read…Happ once again lived up to his preseason All-American billing as he had 12 rebounds and six assists to go along with his 15 points.Happ also became UW’s all-time leading rebounder with 911 and counting for his career, passing Claude Gregory who had held the record since 1981.Speaking postgame, head coach Greg Gard had nothing but praise for his record-breaking forward.“It’s a heck of an accomplishment,” Gard said. “It’s another testament to the type of player he has become.”In the second half, Wisconsin expanded their range and attempted more shots from beyond the arc. D’Mitrik Trice knocked down three of his six attempts from downtown, and Brevin Pritzl was a perfect 2-2 from three-point range.Pritzl finished with a team-high 17 points, Trice had 12 and Forward Charles Thomas IV was also in double figures with 10 points.Volleyball: Badgers to take crack at Buckeyes in Columbus this weekendWith their home season coming to an end, the University of Wisconsin volleyball team will pack up for yet another Read…Ten different players recorded points for the Badgers including 41 points off the bench. A stark contrast to their previous outing against Xavier where Brad Davidson, Happ and Trice combined for 71 of the Badgers 77 points.As a member of an offense that had trouble putting the ball in the basket all night, Ian DuBose was the main attacking threat for HBU, finishing with 18 points and shooting 3-4 from three-point range.HBU head coach Ron Cottrell said his team was playing from behind from the get-go.“They played well, they got our guys on our heels right from the beginning,” Cottrell said.last_img read more