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Thu, Aug. 22

DNA<BR>New program focuses on child safety

PRESCOTT – Having the DNA profile of a missing child readily available could help an investigation.

When Joseph Matthews, retired supervisor in charge of the homicide division for the City of Miami Beach, was working on the 1990 "Baby Lollipop" case he did not have such a technique at his disposal. As a result, he came up with the DNA LifePrint kit in order to solve that crime.

John Walsh, Fox television host of "America Most Wanted," has recognized the importance of this tool and decided ato endorse it.

By using this kit, the goal is now to DNA 'fingerprint' children across America through the Free Child Safety Program, which will be offered to local residents for the first time on Saturday.

The event will go from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Lamb Chevrolet, 400 Prescott Lakes Parkway.

Rhett Wagner, Lamb Chevrolet general sales manager, said Lamb is donating 300 kits, which are non-invasive and non-government involved.

"It's done with a swab inside of the child's cheek," he said. "The parents get the kit and keep it themselves and no data is recorded and the kid's name is not recorded. It is totally anonymous."

According to a press release, the procedure involves rubbing the inside of the child's cheeks for several seconds with the applicator in the kit. The applicator is then inserted into a fixative solution contained in the vial and the child's DNA is captured and will be preserved for more than 80 years.

Parents then get to keep this DNA sample in addition to information about that sample. They will also receive John Walsh's Child Safety Tips, according to the press release.

Wagner said that about two months ago "America Most Wanted" was looking for a local business to sponsor the program.

"They had not had any success as of that time and asked if we would be interested" in sponsoring it and he agreed to, he said.

"We just felt strongly being involved with the safety of the children and the community and doing something out of the ordinary that most kids and parents wouldn't have the opportunity to do," Wagner added.

Wagner said that some entertainment will be available for kids during the event.

Contact the reporter at mburicadam@prescottaz.com

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