A vacuum device created in Idaho has found an unexpected use in criminal cases. The M-Vac is a wet vacuum that’s being used to extract DNA from rough and porous surfaces creating the ability to identify previously unknown suspects in cases all over the country. It’s even been able to prove the innocence of convicted suspects who were wrongly imprisoned.
The vacuum was machine was invented in 1993 in Idaho by Bruce Bradley, who at the time was inspired by the E. Coli breakouts at Jack In The Box. According to Bradley, the weakest point in the detection process is in the collection or sampling of the cells. When it comes to meats or plants, a typical swabbing technique isn’t able to pull the bacteria, so he created the wet vacuum as a way to collect the information he needed. Little did he know, the food industry wouldn’t be interested in his device, but it was exactly what the criminal justice system was looking for.
How Does M-Vac Work?
According to its website, the M-Vac is a sterile wet-vacuum. A collection solution is sprayed onto the surface while it is being simultaneously vacuumed off of the surface. During this time a “mini-hurricane” is created that loosens the DNA material. The device doesn’t identify DNA, but does a great job at collecting it.
How M-Vac Has Overturned Cases
The M-Vac has been helpful in cold cases as well as current cases where blood and other DNA evidence is in tough to reach locations. The M-Vac has been successfully used to prove the innocence of several people who were wrongly convicted of crimes they didn’t commit. Jared Bradley, the son of Bruce, says the oldest successful case he knows of involves 52-year-old evidence from a man’s shirt.
In 1996, Christopher Tapp was arrested and charged for the rape and murder of 18-year-old Angie Dodge. At the time Tapp was 20 years old and coerced into confessing to a crime that he didn’t have any involvement with. Carol Dodge, the mother of the victim, was convinced that Tapp wasn’t the right man and in 2017 requested the use of an M-Vac on her daughter’s clothing and teddy bear. The M-Vac was able to collect identifiable DNA that not only lead to Tapp’s release, but also the arrest of Angie’s actual attacker.
If you or a loved one have been wrongfully committed of a crime, it’s in your best interest to contact a criminal defense attorney with the experience that’s needed to help you through your case. Russell Spatz has over three decades of experience in criminal defense law and is here for you. Give him a call today at 305-442-0200.
Ferraro, Julie A. “System That Aided in DNA Sampling of 1996 Murder Originated in Jerome.” Twin Falls Times-News, 27 May 2019, magicvalley.com/news/local/system-that-aided-in-dna-sampling-of-murder-originated-in/article_c40793dc-adb6-552a-b4fa-4ec94ea1b0cb.html.
Darrow, Lacey. “Idaho Invention Helping Prove Innocence.” KIVI, 27 Apr. 2017, www.kivitv.com/news/idaho-invention-helping-prove-innocence.