Colorado Ex-DNA Analyst Accused of Manipulating Test Results

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Yvonne “Missy” Woods had been a DNA scientist at the Colorado Bureau of Investigations (CBI) for almost ten years, despite a colleague’s 2014 warning that she was mishandling DNA tests. Woods was able to cover up her shortcuts by changing, deleting, or leaving out data in her lab work and continue mishandling DNA tests since the agency did nothing. 

She interfered with DNA testing by removing specific findings and deleting relevant details from criminal justice records. Between 2008 and 2023, the CBI found issues in 654 of Woods’ cases; however, her cases from 1994 to 2008 are still unfinished.

According to the internal inquiry, Woods’s coworkers voiced their concerns about her job on three separate occasions: in 2014, 2018, and 2023. 

Woods was characterized as a high-performing individual who put in a lot of extra hours. She was also a “golden child” at the agency who had the ear of management. According to her coworkers, though, she was known for taking shortcuts in her work so that she could maintain her position at the top.

When asked about the mental health issues that may have contributed to her work mistakes in 2018, Woods said she was “overwhelmed” with her workload at the time. 

The Colorado Bureau of Investigations (CBI) asked state lawmakers for $3 million to have 3,000 DNA samples retested by an outside lab, and they wanted an additional $4.4 million to distribute to district attorney’s offices throughout the state to settle claims from individuals who allege they were wrongfully convicted because on Woods’ work.

According to a statement made by CBI Director Chris Schaefer on Wednesday, the agency is currently evaluating how it dealt with the previous concerns raised over Woods’ work. To make sure its forensic services processes and systems are up to par, the CBI is looking for an outside vendor to perform an organizational assessment.

During an interview with investigators in November, Woods confessed to erasing data pertaining to insufficient male DNA in certain assault cases. This included cases involving the Denver police department. Her motivation was to avoid doing unnecessary tests that would have yielded inconclusive results from such small genetic samples. It is possible that she wished to sidestep inquiries from defense counsel regarding the lack of further testing on the samples that were erased. 

Woods resigned rather than face firing at the end of last year following the agency’s discovery of extensive issues with her work.