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.

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.

SproulMatthew
Matthew Sproul

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.

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."

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