Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson


AG’s lawfully owed DNA project results in 2,681 DNA samples collected from offenders who previously failed to submit DNA as required by law

SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced today that more than 2,600 serious criminal offenders provided their DNA to law enforcement after previously failing to do so as required by law. As a result of Ferguson’s lawfully owed DNA project, these samples are now in a national DNA database critical to identifying perpetrators of unsolved rapes, murders and other violent crimes.

Washington requires many offenders convicted of sex offenses and serious violent crimes to provide their DNA as a term of their conviction. Ferguson’s office is working with local law enforcement across the state to collect these DNA samples from sex offenders, violent offenders and individuals convicted of serious felonies. The samples are added to the national Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), which investigators and prosecutors use to solve serious crimes and bring justice to victims.

When DNA is collected at a crime scene, it is tested by the state’s Crime Lab and checked against the national database. When it returns a “hit,” or a match to evidence already in CODIS, this can help identify serial rapists, link cases across the country, shed new light on cold cases and provide answers to crime victims and their families.

DNA evidence can also exonerate individuals who were wrongfully convicted.

In short, collecting lawfully owed DNA from qualifying offenders helps solve more crimes — here in Washington and across the country. 

“In order to deliver justice for crime victims and improve public safety for all Washingtonians, we must ensure that serious offenders provide their DNA as required by law,” Ferguson said. “We are partnering with law enforcement to close this gap in DNA collection, resulting in evidence that can be used to solve future crimes. This project proves that by working together, we can address major challenges. This work makes Washington safer.”

The Attorney General’s Office estimates thousands of violent offenders are living in Washington with an obligation to provide their DNA. This estimate is based on initial data from the Department of Corrections, followed by an extensive verification process designed to identify and locate offenders who still owe a sample. Ferguson’s lawfully owed DNA project aims to stop these offenders from slipping through the system.

Since the project launched more than four years ago, law enforcement has collected 2,681 DNA samples from violent and sex offenders and entered them into CODIS. This has resulted in 97 “hits.”

Ferguson launched the lawfully owed DNA project in October 2019, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice and local law enforcement.

Ferguson’s office started by collecting samples from currently registered sex offenders and offenders under the supervision of the state Department of Corrections, including those who are incarcerated and in community custody. Then, the office collected DNA from offenders convicted of sex, kidnapping and homicide offenses.

Now, the Attorney General’s Office is working to collect samples from offenders convicted of a variety of violent and felony offenses, including assault and robbery.

Washington law requires certain offenders to submit DNA samples

Every state requires that individuals convicted of certain crimes — including violent crimes and sex offenses, among others — must have a DNA sample taken to be submitted to CODIS. Jails, correctional facilities and local law enforcement agencies are responsible for collecting the samples and submitting them to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab, which enters them into CODIS.

Before 2023, Washington had no uniform process for the timely collection of DNA from offenders who owed samples. In July 2023, a new law took effect to improve the process. House Bill 1028 directs courts to create time-sensitive protocols for collecting DNA upon sentencing. It originated from a recommendation from the Attorney General’s Office Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) Advisory Group.

Specifically, courts must implement a sample collection system that includes scheduling a compliance hearing within 10 days if DNA is not collected at the time of sentencing. This ensures samples are collected in a timely manner.

The new law does not address thousands of samples that were previously ordered and are still owed.

Attorney General’s Office multi-step process for collecting DNA

The Attorney General’s Office uses a lengthy, multi-step investigative process to locate offenders who still owe DNA.

First, investigators with the office’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) use data from the Department of Corrections and Washington State Patrol to identify offenders who owe DNA. Attorney General investigators confirm which offenders already have a DNA profile in CODIS and analyze offenders’ conviction histories to confirm that they still owe DNA.

Then, investigators use numerous databases to confirm that the offender is still located in the state and find the last known contact information. Investigators then send letters to offenders asking them to report to local law enforcement to provide a sample, informing them that refusing a legal request to provide a DNA sample is a violation of state law. Attorney General staff conduct direct outreach and work with local law enforcement to contact individuals who do not respond to the letters.

Ferguson’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative

Ferguson’s lawfully owed DNA project is part of his office’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, which launched in April 2017. SAKI aimed to eliminate the state’s backlog of untested sexual assault kits. Ferguson announced in October 2023 that Washington effectively cleared that backlog, with the last of more than 10,000 sexual assault kits cleared from shelves and sent to labs for testing. Clearing the backlog and testing the kits has helped solve at least 21 sexual assault cases — a number that is not exhaustive and will grow over time.

Ferguson expanded the work of SAKI in October 2019 to include the lawfully owed DNA project, a partnership with local law enforcement to identify and locate offenders who owe DNA and collect samples for entry into CODIS. SAKI has also expanded to offer grants to law enforcement for evidence storage and funding to local departments for genetic genealogy testing for cold case evidence. These grants have helped solve multiple cold cases, among them:

  • Nearly 20-year-old rape case in Grays Harbor County: In 2003, a 17-year-old McCleary girl was abducted near her home by an unknown man, who restrained her and forced her into her own car. He drove her somewhere, raped her, and drove her back near her home. She freed herself and drove home. DNA recovered from her sexual assault examination did not return any matches in the database at the time. AGO funding for private forensic genetic genealogy testing helped lead investigators to a suspect, Paul Bieker, who was later convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
  • One suspect sentenced for two cold cases: In March 2022, Spokane police arrested Kenneth Downing in connection with home invasions and rapes in Pullman in 2003 and 2004. AGO-funded genetic genealogy testing helped match Downing’s DNA to the suspect in both crimes. Downing was convicted of multiple counts of rape and assault and is serving a life prison sentence. He won’t be eligible for parole for more than 23 years. 
  • 1995 killer identified: In March 2022, the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office announced a match for the DNA left behind by the killer of 61-year-old Patricia Lorraine Barnes, who was murdered in 1995. AGO-funded genetic genealogy testing in late 2021 helped lead investigators to the suspect, Douglas Keith Krohn, who died in 2016. The case was closed, providing her family and the community closure.
  • Homicide cold case solved four decades later: Krisann Baxter, 16, was found dead in Spokane on Oct. 4, 1978. DNA samples collected during the autopsy were sent to the state crime lab, but DNA analysis could not be completed due to limitations in technology at the time. More testing in 2006 revealed a profile of an “unknown male.” In 2020, the samples were again submitted to the lab for additional testing, then to a private lab for AGO-funded genetic genealogy testing. The lab, Othram, Inc., identified potential relatives of the suspect. Ultimately, Keith D. Lindblom was identified as the suspect. He died in a fire on April 11, 1981. Lindblom’s child provided DNA, which was determined to be a match. The Spokane County prosecutor said charges against Lindblom would have been warranted if he was alive. 

Legislature approves Ferguson’s request to fund permanent SAKI Unit

This year, the Legislature approved Ferguson’s request for $801,000 in the state budget to make his Sexual Assault Kit Initiative permanent. The grant funding from the U.S. Department of Justice is set to end in September, but the new funds ensure the unit can continue building on the momentum and significant success in improving Washington’s response to sexual assault crimes.

The permanent SAKI Unit will:

  • Use available data to track sexual assault cases and identify serial sex offenders;
  • Offer broader assistance to local law enforcement on sexually motivated cold cases;
  • Continue providing assistance on sexual assault kit testing and collection of DNA from offenders who owe samples as part of their convictions;
  • Assist local law enforcement with forensic genetic genealogy testing, training and resources; and
  • More generally, leverage years of experience and expertise working with various labs and the FBI to remove barriers for local agencies looking to solve more crimes and bring justice to more victims.

Learn more about the Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative here.


Washington’s Attorney General serves the people and the state of Washington. As the state’s largest law firm, the Attorney General’s Office provides legal representation to every state agency, board, and commission in Washington. Additionally, the Office serves the people directly by enforcing consumer protection, civil rights, and environmental protection laws. The Office also prosecutes elder abuse, Medicaid fraud, and handles sexually violent predator cases in 38 of Washington’s 39 counties. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.

Media Contact:

Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; Brionna.aho@atg.wa.gov

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