January 12 - 2004: Record cold engulfs Cape

2007: State crime lab mishandled DNA results
Main Street Chatham looked like Alaska. CapeCodToday.com photo.

2007: State crime lab mishandled DNA results

State Police suspend aide, ask FBI audit, Cape case may be affected

On this day in 2007 an administrator at the troubled State Police crime laboratory has been suspended for failing to tell prosecutors of DNA matches in a number of unsolved rape cases, which now cannot be pursued because the statute of limitations has expired, the head of the State Police said yesterday.

The administrator, whom officials would not name, also told police and prosecutors that tests in an unspecified number of cases linked DNA recovered at crime scenes to suspects, when in fact they had not, Colonel Mark F. Delaney,  superintendent of the State Police, said in a statement... Under state law, most rape and sexual assault allegations must be prosecuted within 15 years of the offense.

Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael D. O'Keefe said he has been told he has one case involving a July 1988 sexual assault. But O'Keefe reviewed the case and said the suspect pleaded guilty in 1989 to that sexual assault charge and several others and was sentenced to 18 to 20 years in prison, to be followed by commitment to the state's sexual offender treatment center in Bridgewater. In that case, scientists confirmed a DNA match, unbeknown to O'Keefe, and the statute of limitations would have expired in 2003 if the defendant had not already been convicted.

The State Police lab has drawn criticism for years for a mammoth backlog in checking DNA samples for matches. The issue came into sharp focus in April 2004 after authorities disclosed that it took more than eight months to process a DNA sample that led to the arrest of a trash collector in the 2002 slaying of Christa Worthington, a Cape Cod fashion writer who was found stabbed and sexually assaulted in her home. The trash collector, Christopher M. McCowen, was convicted of murder in November.

2004: Wind chill temperatures of minus 25 degrees were recorded

As reported on this day in 2004 by the Associated Press - "Record setting cold seen in Massachusetts"

"... People who were unfazed by the weather were a rarity ... as the cold set records in Massachusetts with a Canadian front funneling arctic air into the Northeast and forecasters eying the possibility of the harshest January in a decade," the AP reported.

Wind chill temperatures from minus 15 to minus 25 degrees were recorded across the state, according to the National Weather Service.

A spokesman for the American Automobile Association of New England said that AAA was receiving a thousand calls an hour from people unable to start their vehicles because of dead batteries. A surge in demand for home heating oil and shortage of natural gas supplies brought New England perilously close to a regional blackout, a potentially catastrophic situation in the dead of winter.

"Worcester residents woke up to a nasty minus eight degrees, breaking the previous record for the day of minus five, which was set in 1968," the AP reported. "The town of Orange saw the coldest temperature around the state, registering around minus 10."

Read about "Everything Else Which Happened Today" including in 1981 when the lowest-ever temperature was recorded in Massachusetts: -35°F (-37°C), Chester, Massachusetts (state record).

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