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Prosecutor says some criminals probably escaped charges as DNA samples not recorded

Milwaukee's chief prosecutor says at least some criminals in Wisconsin probably escaped charges because the DNA samples they were supposed to give to a state database never made it there.

John Chisholm says he wants to find out who those criminals are, so he can get them into court before the statute of limitations runs out on their cases.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says his department does not have DNA samples from 12,000 convicted felons.

The problem was discovered after alleged Milwaukee serial killer Walter Ellis reportedly got a prisoner in Oshkosh to pose as him, when the state ordered Ellis to provide a sample in 2001.

State Corrections Secretary Rick Raemisch said his department was scrambling back then to catch up with all the felons, because a law requiring their DNA samples had just been passed.

Now, Raemisch says the process is organized much better.

Prisoners leave their DNA as soon as they walk in the door. And those on probation leave their samples with the local sheriff.

Raemisch said he was shocked to learn about the large number of samples not in the database and he's reviewing the names of those without samples and determining how to find them.

Lawmakers, meanwhile, are calling for an audit to see who caused the problem, and the best ways to fix it.