DNA test during lab training leads to car-theft suspect

The crime lab tested the DNA from the stolen vehicle while training new technicians.

A DNA test performed at the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory for training purposes implicated an Oak Harbor man in a car theft, according to court documents.

On Nov. 21, 2018, an Oak Harbor resident reported to police that his 1988 Honda Civic had been stolen from outside his apartment complex.

A few weeks later, the car was found crashed into a ditch on East Sleeper Road.

An officer with the Oak Harbor Police Department took a sample of blood smeared inside the car.

The crime lab would normally not perform DNA testing in stolen vehicle cases and instead focuses on testing evidence in violent crimes. Since there was no other evidence, the case was closed, according to an officer’s report.

But then the crime lab asked the police for DNA samples that could be tested while new technicians were being trained. The police sent several cases for testing, including the car theft.

Earlier this year, the crime lab returned the result on the car theft case and reported that the DNA from the blood matched that of Jeremiah Rauch, whose DNA profile was in CODIS from a 2016 car theft conviction, court documents show.

An officer spoke with Rauch, who denied remembering anything about driving the vehicle or even borrowing a car three years ago.