Johnia Hope Berry was a vibrant, beautiful, and very ambitious young woman who had just started a new chapter of her life in Knoxville, TN, where she was to enter the Masters’ Program at the University of Tennessee.
Tragically, in the early morning hours of December 6, 2004, someone looking to steal car keys entered Johnia’s apartment. When the thief did not find what he was looking for in the living room, he entered Johnia’s bedroom, where he brutally attacked and murdered her by stabbing her to death.
Forensic specialists had collected DNA evidence from the crime scene, but no suspects were identified and law enforcement officials had no viable leads. Nearly three years passed when Taylor Lee Olson was arrested for burglary and theft. Upon arrest, Olson voluntarily submitted a DNA sample, which matched the DNA sample taken from the crime scene.
With this new break in the case, Taylor Olson was indicted for murdering Johnia Berry. However, before Olson would stand trial, he committed suicide while incarcerated. But without DNA evidence, Johnia’s killer may have never been found.
A simple cotton swab can be a major crime fighting tool here in Georgia. For the last 15 years, DNA evidence has been the most effective and valuable weapon used to identify the perpetrator in an unsolved rape or murder case while helping to exonerate those under suspicion, or worse – those falsely accused. DNA is already collected in every Federal arrest. 21 states have now passed DNA Arrestee Laws, including surrounding states of Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina.
If Georgia passes a DNA Arrestee Law, it will help our law enforcement officials to:
* Catch repeat offenders much quicker
* Clear those under suspicion of the crime
* Actually reduce costs in our criminal justice system