Kansas City police were able to arrest Derek Richardson last month in connection with the deaths of two women who worked as prostitutes partly because of police employees like Jennifer Howard, who toiled behind the scenes.
Police Chief Darryl Forté surprised Howard in a private ceremony Wednesday at Police Headquarters by giving her a rare chief’s coin. He gives the coin to employees for exceptional work.
Within a span of about two months, Howard, a DNA technical leader at the department’s Regional Crime Lab, compared DNA profiles of about 50 possible suspects to evidence found with the victims.
Coming into the lab at all hours of the day, she identified DNA profiles for 37 men after police swabbed the inside of their cheeks. The other suspects already had DNA profiles in a national database.
Her work allowed police to quickly abandon investigations into suspects who were not a match to the evidence. Police saved valuable time and manpower after she ruled out suspects for them, investigators said. She had not been previously recognized for her work, so Forté wanted to let her know it was appreciated, police said.