An Orange County criminal database credited with helping police catch an alleged serial rapist earlier this year received $250,000 in state funds Tuesday.
The money will help keep afloat Trackers--the Task Force Review Aimed at Catching Killers, Rapists and Sex Offenders--which has archived fingerprint and DNA evidence from thousands of old homicides and rapes throughout Orange County.
"Accepting this generous grant will help us catch murderers, violent sex offenders and in some cases, serial killers who have up until now gotten away with their crimes," Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said as he accepted a check for the money at a news conference.
The program, which employs 10 investigators, costs an estimated $700,000 a year, the bulk of which is funded by the district attorney's office and police agencies that use the program, officials said. Last year, officials added, the state contributed $200,000 to the program.
In May, the Trackers database helped investigators connect at least seven sexual assaults, most of which were committed last year against girls as young as 13 in upscale neighborhoods throughout the county.
Investigators said they used DNA evidence to identify the sole suspect, Steven Morales, a Chino Hills building contractor who has since been charged with 23 counts of sexual assault.
In the last two years, Trackers has been used to create profiles of suspects in about 30 homicides, Rackauckas said.
The program has won nationwide interest from law enforcement officials who are planning to use Trackers as a model for their own programs.
Though access to the database has been restricted to Orange County law enforcement agencies, Long Beach police have expressed an interest in joining the program.
Assemblyman Lou Correa (D-Anaheim), who presented the check to Rackauckas, lobbied to include the latest state grant in a public safety bill, said Chris Leo, Correa's chief of staff.