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Evidence of Unsolved Cases Erased in Brooklyn Warehouse Fire

Evidence of Unsolved Cases Erased in Brooklyn Warehouse Fire

On Tuesday, the warehouse of the Brooklyn police department blazed up with the fire, destroying the crucial evidence of all the decades old unsolved cases.

The Erie Basin Auto Pound warehouse was located at Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood. The debris found scattered outside the warehouse had held everything from souped-up vehicles seized from reckless drivers to forensic fibers from decades-old murders and cold cases.

It has been reported that the fire blazed up on Tuesday and by Wednesday the fire was under control but the firefighters were battling with the flare-ups in the warehouse as fire marshals inspected the property.

Outside the warehouse soggy and crumpled boxes with fragments of bar codes were found along with the charged wreckage including a mélange of sneakers, basketball jerseys and women’s blouses, along with an array of fishnet stockings, panties and bras.

Small plastic cylinders containing genetic material were laid melted, or broken open and submerged in dirty water.

The fire department is still investigating the reasons of the fire as well as the number of criminal cases that would be affected by this fire, which have erased the crucial evidence. The fire officials have reported that almost everything in the warehouse has been destroyed.

According to one of the police officials the warehouse contained a number of sensitive evidence such as the sensitive DNA evidence from burglaries and shootings, as well as vehicles, motorbikes and e-bikes.

Jeffrey Maddrey, the Police Department’s acting chief of department, told that the Erie Basin warehouse had housed sensitive DNA material, as well as evidence from past burglaries and shootings, but no rape kits were stored in the warehouse, as it contain genetic material for sexual assault cases.

One of the law enforcement agency official said that most of the stored evidence would likely have already been photographed and documented and much of the DNA would already have been tested. However, not much information has been provided by him as he did not had the authority to comment.

According to the civil rights lawyer Ron Kuby, the latest destruction of forensic evidence (from genetic information on clothing to paper trial transcripts) could be catastrophic for people relying on it to appeal verdicts, as well as for inmates making exoneration claims.

He added that if there are cases that rely on forensic evidence using technology that didn’t exist years ago, now that evidence has all been destroyed.

Vanessa Potkin, the director of special litigation at the Innocence Project in New York said that her organization had harder time accessing evidence for post-conviction DNA testing from the city’s Police Department that often led to cases being closed.

She explained that in the current time they are working on over 200 potential cases from people in the city who are requesting DNA testing to prove their innocence. But because of this fire the cases of wrongfully convicted and imprisoned people in New York City to prove their innocence literally went up in smoke.

It has been reported that this was not the first incidence when the warehouse was affected so badly. In 2012, the warehouse was flooded due to the Hurricane Sandy which destroyed nearly 10,000 barrels of evidence stored there that contained sensitive DNA material.

The warehouse was sealed due to the contamination with raw sewage that flew inside the building. The police officials said there were no plans to repair the damaged warehouse and the contents would be transferred to an interim site in Brooklyn until a new consolidated storage center was built.

But no such transfer ever happened and the storage was continued in the same warehouse for another decade till the fire blazed up there. The reason for this is still in question.

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