How DNA Technology Solved the Murder of a 25-Year-Old

PINELAS COUNTY, FL – On the morning of August 14, 1997, Michael Scheumeister was found dead near the Mirror Lake Library on Fifth Street North in St. Louis. St. Petersburg.

Scheumeister, 45, was found lying on his back with his trouser pockets turned inside out and money from his recent paycheck missing, suggesting he had a robbery motive.

On the new To The Point Already podcast, Bay News 9 anchors Rick Elmhorst and Roy De Jesus talk with Pinellas County authorities about how sophisticated DNA technology is solving crimes 25 years later.

“When you try these cases, you almost have to sort them by the evidence available,” said St. Petersburg detective Wallace Pavelski. “I will review the cases and if I see enough evidence, I will proceed.”

Investigators have learned that Scheumeister was at a bar with Patricia Morris the night before she was found dead. But Morris said the pair went their separate ways after leaving the pub and the case was dropped when no further evidence emerged. Morris died in 2010 at the age of 59.

But improved technology managed to breathe new life into this case and many others like it. That’s where DNA analysts like Beth Ordeman step in.

In early 2022, detectives resubmitted Scheumeister’s pants to the Pinellas County Forensic Lab for DNA re-evaluation. This month, detectives received a response from the Combined DNA Indexing System (CODIS) saying DNA found in the inside front and back pockets belonged to Morris.

The medical examiner’s report determined the cause of death to be blunt force trauma to the head and neck.

“The DNA results I get from my pocket are imported (CODIS) and then searched locally across all the samples we have,” Ordeman said. “Then it went up to the state level and we got a match message in the system. Once I confirmed that it was indeed a DNA hit, I asked the state database to release the name and identifying information.”

It’s a detailed process, but one that ultimately pays off when the case is closed, Oldman said.

“No matter what, there’s always hope,” she said of solving cold cases. “The technology is now very advanced. We’ve achieved great results with just a few DNA cells.”

About the exhibition

Spectrum Bay News 9 anchor Rick Elmhorst sits down with people who represent you, who are fighting for change, and who have compelling stories to ask tough questions.

Catch up on our latest To The Point Already podcast episode.

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