Colorado DNA Analyst Accused of Deliberately Manipulating Data, Investigation Reveals

An internal affairs investigation found that a Colorado Bureau of Investigation DNA analyst purposely falsified data during the testing process for at least 15 years.

Yvonne “Missy” Woods, a former DNA scientist who worked at the CBI crime lab for 29 years, has been under investigation since September 2023, according to the CBI.

The examination found that Woods changed data throughout the DNA testing process and, in some cases, published partial test results.

Colorado DNA Analyst Accused of Deliberately Manipulating Data, Investigation Reveals

“At this time, 652 cases have been identified as affected by Woods’ data manipulation between 2008 and 2023,” the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) stated in a release. “A review of Woods’ work from 1994 to 2008 is also underway.

The inquiry, dated Feb. 26, discovered that Woods “omitted material facts in official criminal justice records,” “tampered with DNA testing results by omitting some of those results,” and violated the bureau’s code of conduct and lab regulations “ranging from data retention to quality control measures.”

According to the investigation, a DNA forensics team discovered Woods altered her work by deleting and modifying data to conceal the fact that she interfered with controls and failed to resolve issues that surfaced during testing. It was also discovered that she did not give appropriate documentation in case records on the tests she performed.

“These manipulations appear to have been the result of intentional conduct on the part of Woods,” according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The CBI claimed the results “call all of her work into question.”

Woods’ attorney, Ryan Brackley, stated that she “will continue to cooperate with law enforcement to preserve the integrity of her work that resulted in true and just criminal justice findings—whether arrests, convictions, or exonerations.”

The agency initiated the probe in September after discovering that Woods’ DNA sample testing “may have deviated from standard operating procedures.”

Woods was placed on administrative leave on October 3 and retired from her position on November 6. The CBI stated that she did not conduct any extra lab work during that time.

Colorado DNA Analyst Accused of Deliberately Manipulating Data, Investigation Reveals

Since October 3, the CBI, in partnership with officers of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, has investigated all of Woods’ work over her 29-year career with the bureau.

Finally, the study did not conclude that Wood “falsified DNA matches or otherwise fabricated DNA profiles.”

“She instead deviated from standard testing protocols and cut corners, calling into question the reliability of the testing she conducted,” according to the CBI. It added that Woods “should have conducted additional testing to ensure the reliability of her results in these affected cases.”

The results of the study, according to her attorney, “support Ms. Woods’s earlier statements she’s never created or reported any false inculpatory DNA matches or exclusions, nor has she testified falsely in any hearing or trial resulting in a false conviction or unjust imprisonment.”

A separate criminal investigation into Woods, which began late last year, is still ongoing, according to the CBI.

The CBI stated that it is trying to implement improvements that will “enhance the integrity of its testing processes and their results” and prevent similar issues from emerging in the future.

“Public trust in our institutions is critical to the fulfillment of our mission,” stated CBI Director Chris Schaefer. “Our actions in rectifying this unprecedented breach of trust will be thorough and transparent.”

The bureau also said that it is conducting an examination of all of its DNA analysts “to ensure the accuracy and completeness of its entire catalog of records.”

During the audit, the CBI discovered that an other analyst working for the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at the Northern Colorado Regional Forensic Laboratory may have falsified DNA testing results, although this case is independent from Woods’.

Chiara Wuensch, an analyst, was sacked by the Weld County Sheriff’s Office last month following an internal probe into “anomalies” in her work. According to the sheriff’s office, she “violated the Weld County Code for expectations of proper conduct, and the sheriff’s office standards of conduct policy for not cooperating with the agency’s internal investigation,” which began on January 31.

Wuensch did not immediately respond to a request for comment on her dismissal or the circumstances surrounding it.

The sheriff’s office stated that it intends to file criminal charges against Weunsch.


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