Chris Tapp, who served 20 years for the 18-year-old’s rape and murder, does not match DNA samples from the murder scene. But one as-yet-unidentified man does.
Police in Idaho Falls released two sketches Wednesday based on DNA analysis that show what the suspect is believed to look like at age 25 and about age 40. They’re essentially starting the investigation over after Tapp’s early release from prison, amid a general consensus that Tapp was not the main person responsible for the crime.
“The Idaho Falls Police Department has spent more time and money investigating this crime than any other crime in the history of this department,” Idaho Falls Police Chief Mark McBride said in a news release. “But the resources directed to this case are quintessential to solving it, and we are determined to bring a resolution to this heinous crime. We owe it to the Dodge family and our citizens and therefore, this case will remain as high of a priority as it has been since 1996.”
The big break in the 1996 case came last year, when a judge agreed to new DNA testing on every piece of evidence collected at the Dodge crime scene using a new forensic DNA collection system, called M-Vac. All of the items from the scene were tested and they all pointed away from Tapp to this other specific person, experts said. Tapp was released March 22.
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Tapp told the Idaho Statesman last week he hopes the killer is found — not to exonerate him, but for the sake of Dodge’s mother.
Idaho Falls police have set up a Dodge Homicide Tipline, 1-800-922-1239, and urge people to come forward with information that could lead to an arrest.