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DNA sample from 2001 of suspect in Milwaukee murders was somehow lost

A Milwaukee man suspected of killing eight women since 1986 might have been arrested sooner. But a DNA sample taken in 2001 for a state database never made it there.

For months, Milwaukee Police said there was never a sample taken from the person whose DNA was found by cold-case investigators on numerous prostitutes who were strangled or stabbed.

But yesterday, state corrections' officials said Walter Ellis, 49, did provide a DNA sample at the Oshkosh prison in 2001.

And it was mailed to the state Justice Department to be part of a database that police use to look for suspects in crimes.

But justice spokesman Kevin St. John said his agency never received the Ellis sample.

And a lab in Texas that developed DNA profiles for the department at the time never got it, either.

Corrections' spokesman John Dipko said his agency did its job.

St. John could not say what happened but he said it was the first time such a sample had disappeared.

A state law passed in 2000 required all felons to provide DNA samples and Ellis has a long criminal record dating back to 1978.

Milwaukee Police said they finally got Ellis's DNA profile last week and they arrested him last Saturday.

He's due in court today for the killings Joyce Mims in 1997 and Ouithreaun Stokes in 2007.

Ellis has been charged with two other slayings and charges in four other homicides are pending.