Saturday, December 20, 2014

Cops use DNA to chase man to his grave

When Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood says "We even find you when you're dead," he's not kidding.

Cops use DNA to chase man to his grave

Matthew Sproul
Matthew Sproul

When Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood says "We even find you when you're dead," he's not kidding.

Evidence in a March copper theft - namely, a bloody hand print left at the scene - led police to Matthew Sproul, 28, of Northeast Philadelphia, after the analysis was returned from a state police lab Friday, Chitwood said.

A subsequent check on Sproul's driver's license led police to his grave, Chitwood said.

Sproul had died of a drug overdose June 19, more than three months after he allegedly stole a substantial amount of copper tubing - including a water meter - from a house that was being renovated on Albemarle Avenue near Marshall in Upper Darby, police said. Chitwood believes like many copper thefts, this one was committed to support Sproul's drug habit.

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Given a bloody hand print at the scene, police assumed that their suspect had injured himself while trying to remove copper and they sent a swab of the blood to state police for analysis, Chitwood said. On Friday, Upper Darby cops got word that the DNA in question belonged to Sproul, whom they soon discovered was dead.

"We followed him to the grave," Chitwood said. "Obviously, this case is closed."

About this blog
In The Daily Delco blog, Daily News reporters William Bender and Stephanie Farr dig up all the dirt - from crazy crimes to political malfeasance and everything in between - in Delaware County.

E-mail tips to Bender at benderw@phillynews.com or call him at 215-964-2099. Follow him on Twitter: @wbender99

E-mail tips to Farr at farrs@phillynews.com or call her at 215-854-4225. Follow her on Twitter: @farfarraway

William Bender and Stephanie Farr
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