Small Delaware County Crime Lab Known For Helping Solve Cases Quickly

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When criminals commit crimes, many think they've walked away without leaving any clues that they'd been there.

That's why the role of evidence technicians is so important to law enforcement.

10TV’s Kevin Landers went to one of the most unique crime labs in the state, where cases are getting cleared faster than most departments twice its size.

You've heard of a garage band. This is a garage crime lab.

"It's what we've been given to work with, and for 22 years we've made it work,” says Lawrence Bernstorf of the Delaware County Sheriff's Office.

What it lacks in size, it makes up for with speed and precision.

"We can come up with evidence and come up with leads while they are hot, instead of having to wait 5, 6, or 7 (days) or 2 weeks to get results from BCI&I (the state crime lab)," he says.

Bernstorf says the state crime lab is overloaded.

But his crime lab, which is about the size of a two car garage, is built to preserve and fingerprint anything that you can image.

"Baseball bats, golf balls, knives, guns- pretty much anything," he says.

And he means anything.

"We had some sex toys that were brought in for an assault and I really didn't want to fingerprint them," he says.

It is rare having two master evidence technicians in one sheriff’s office in Ohio.  There are only 16 sheriff's departments in the state that have two master evidence technicians, which means getting away with a crime in Delaware County just got a whole lot harder.

"Sure, sure that's the whole idea behind this. We want to make sure the county of Delaware a safer committee," says Bernstorf.

But there is one case that continues to haunt the lab: The 2001 unsolved murder of Lisa Gross, a mother of two found dead in her bathtub.
"We know how she died; where she died; but we don't know who killed her," he says.

While most of the publicity for solving crimes goes to the detectives, it's the master evidence technicians working behind that make the evidence stick.

"It's like a big jigsaw puzzle", he says.

They say solving that puzzle is the best part of their job.

"We don't hear a lot of thank-yous, it's very satisfying to see a case that we started and justice is had. It’s fantastic", he says.

To become a master evidence technician a person needs to take 400 more hours of training which can take 3 to 5 years to complete.