Waiting for DNA evidence processing difficult for families

Waiting for DNA evidence processing difficult for victims' families

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Brittany Sherwood Eldridge was more than eight months pregnant when her body was found in December 2011. (source: family photo) Brittany Sherwood Eldridge was more than eight months pregnant when her body was found in December 2011. (source: family photo)
Investigators say the Eldridge case involved a lot of forensic evidence. Investigators say the Eldridge case involved a lot of forensic evidence.
"It's pure agony. You're an emotional wreck all the time," said Robin Owens. "It's pure agony. You're an emotional wreck all the time," said Robin Owens.
"An average turnaround for DNA is about 15 weeks in the crime lab, and that's just an average number," TBI spokesperson Kristin Helm explained. "An average turnaround for DNA is about 15 weeks in the crime lab, and that's just an average number," TBI spokesperson Kristin Helm explained.

By MONA NAIR
6 News Reporter

NASHVILLE (WATE) – It's been nearly a year since pregnant, 25-year-old Brittany Sherwood Eldridge was murdered in Knoxville.

Robin Owens, Brittany's mother, has been waiting for answers for all of that time. Police told her they are waiting on results from forensic tests.

"It's pure agony. You're an emotional wreck all the time," said Owens.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation recently completed processing forensic evidence in the case. Investigators plan to send that information to the Knoxville Police Department.

6 News visited the TBI crime lab in Nashville to find out why forensic testing can sometimes take several months.

A scientist showed how chemical tests are performed on objects found at a crime scene. Scientists take samples and use machines to create a DNA solution. The results could solve someone's case.

"We ran about 335,000 tests [last year] for law enforcement across the state," said TBI spokesperson Kristin Helm.

Investigators say the Eldridge case involved a lot of forensic evidence. The most recent batch was submitted four months ago.

"An average turnaround for DNA is about 15 weeks in the crime lab, and that's just an average number," Helm explained.

The wait time depends on the volume of evidence and the nature of the case. Accuracy is crucial.

"For justice that's the most important thing. The evidence that is submitted in court," Helm said.

The hope for justice is what Owens says keeps her going.

"It will be closure for my family and for myself," Owens explained.

TBI says forensic testing in the Eldridge case is complete and investigators are finishing their report to send to Knoxville.  


A charity concert is being held to benefit the Brittany and Zeke Foundation. Brittany's family formed the group to stop violence against pregnant women.

The two-night concert called "A Beary Metal Rockin' Christmas" is being held Friday and Saturday, December 14-15. The show begins at 8 both nights at the American Legion Hall Post 13, Maryville.

Admission is $3 for ages 21 and older. It's $5 for anyone under 21.

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