Burglary victim: Police not interested in DNA from cigarette butt

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office later agreed to collect evidence

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It could be a piece of evidence that might help solve a case, but a Westside woman says police are not interested in it.

Brittany Myers said someone broke into her home near Florida State College at Jacksonville's Kent Campus and stole thousands of dollars worth of stuff, but left behind a cigarette butt.

Myers said the cigarette butt would have saliva, which means DNA, and if police would test it, she thinks the case would have a much higher chance of being solved.

The break-in happened New Years Eve around 7:30 p.m. when Myers and her boyfriend were out with friends.

"One of the bricks from our tree was taken and used to smash open the window," Myers said. "Then they're able to get in the window without breaking the second pane to unlock the door."

She said the crook combed the home, taking computers, a camera and her boyfriend's gun.

"When I went to my bedroom, on the first sight I noticed that the left sock drawer was open," Myers said.

The alarm went off and her 18-year-old brother came back home around the same time. The thief scurried away as the teen arrived, but forgot what Myers believes is a key piece of evidence.

She said two Jacksonville police officers went to her home and couldn't find any fingerprints. She said she found the cigarette butt while one of the officers was there, but he didn't seem to care about the DNA that could have been on it.

"He went to sitting in his car, he never came out to look at it or anything," Myers said. "He said that, again, it goes back to the same thing that he told me earlier: DNA would not be ran because the cost it was to them."

DNA testing can be expensive, but Channel 4 crime analyst Ken Jefferson said the database includes felons who were convicted in the last few decades, and it could be a sure way to crack the case.

According to the Justice Department, Florida started collecting DNA samples from offenders who committed the non-violent felony offense of burglary in July 2000. The state started collecting DNA samples from all felons in 2005.

"You've got a bad person that has broken into a house who now has a gun where they can commit other crimes," Jefferson said. "I think the officers should have used better judgment and collected the item that they could have possibly sent off to the lab just to see if there is any evidence. At least try. The victims and the taxpayers here in the city want a little bang for their buck when it comes down to law enforcement services."

A source within JSO, who didn't want to be identified, said if they followed procedure, the officers on the scene should have collected the butt as evidence.

"We can get over the money that's missing, but the fact that there's a gun out there, I don't think it's going to rest on my conscience well if it comes up that that gun was used to kill anybody," Myers said.

Myers said she wants a little more effort from police so what happened to her doesn't happen to anyone else. As it stands now, she said she doesn't foresee anyone being arrested.

Myers said she and her boyfriend are now considering paying for a private DNA test to be done. 

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Melissa Bujeda told Channel 4 Thursday night,  "All evidence should be collected at a crime scene. The incident will be looked onto and we will be in touch with the victim to collect any evidence that exists." 

Bujeda told Channel 4 that the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office will be contacting Myers Friday and further the investigation. Channel 4 will continue to follow this story. 

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