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DNA leads to arrest of suspect in social worker’s murder

Changes in state laws and advances in DNA technology helped New York City police find and arrest a suspect in the murder of social worker James Hawkins in 1993, according to this article in the New York Times.

Police arrested registered sex offender Gordon Francis, 54, who had been paroled from prison just three months before Hawkins was found stabbed to death on the floor of his Manhattan apartment. Francis had been in prison for rape, robbery and kidnapping.

DNA testing had improved since the 1993 murder. A change in state law also widened the number of crimes that required police to collect DNA evidence from perpetrators.

Francis was convicted of criminal trespass in 2008 and police collected DNA samples from him. Police identified a match between Francis and DNA from the murder scene in 2010.

Neighbors remembered Hawkins, 50, as a kind and gentle man who liked to sing arias.

“This was a horrific crime that left the victim’s family seeking justice for nearly two decades,” Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said in a statement.

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