Nearly 15 months after two homes were burglarized in Luling, police were able to make an arrest based upon an empty soft drink can.
St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said his department was able to link DNA from the can to a 28-year-old Marrero man. Jarvis Wilkins has an extensive criminal record, Champagne said, and he was arrested and booked into jail for the two home burglaries last week.
The homes were burglarized in August 2011 on Lakewood Drive. A witness saw the burglar carrying stolen items into the woods behind the homes. The thief apparently dropped a few items during his escape and police recovered some of the stolen merchandise.
"One of the items was an empty soft drink can. The victim said that the soft drink can had been in her refrigerator," Champagne said. "Apparently, the burglar drank the soft drink before leaving the area."
Crime scene technicians were able to get a DNA sample from the can. The sample was processed more than a year later and the DNA code was entered into the state system.
Champagne said the case was not deemed a priority by the crime lab since major offenses such as murder, rape, robbery and sex crimes get that justification.
"Last week we were notified that the DNA code obtained from the can matched that of a Marrero man with an extensive criminal record," Champagne said.
That man was Wilkins, who is currently incarcerated in the Nelson Coleman Correctional Center under two counts of simple burglary. His bond has been set at $50,000.
Champagne said that this case highlights the fact that the DNA databases in Louisiana and around the country are growing as more criminals are entered into the system.
"The important fact here is that the DNA database is steadily being populated to the point that there is a larger pool of suspect DNA to compare unknown samples found at crime scenes," Champagne said. "Many times law enforcement will obtain DNA from a crime scene, but unless you have a suspect to compare it to, it is not of much use.
"Now, the odds are shifting in our favor in cases of unknown suspects."