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GBI DNA lab links thousands of leads to unsolved cold cases

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DECATUR, GA (CBS46) -

You've seen it in cop shows.

Investigators use nothing more than a blood stain to snag a criminal.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation's real-life DNA lab is helping police departments around metro Atlanta to solve crimes that, until recently, were unsolved for decades.

The DNA database has given leads on more than 3,500 unsolved cases to law enforcement agencies.

One of those cases helped police link a suspect to the murder of a little girl in Canton.

Ryan Brun confessed to raping and killing 7-year-old Jorelys Rivera, then dumping her body in a trash compactor in 2011.

Police used evidence from the GBI's DNA database to connect Brun to the grisly crime.

"This can provide an investigative lead where there may not have been on before," said Cleveland Miles, a forensic biology manager with the GBI's crime lab.

Miles's unit collects data from around the country and uses that information to solve cold cases, sometimes open for decades.

"In some of those cases, there are no witnesses, very little evidence. A person may be deceased, so they're not able to give any information," Miles said.

Atlanta police this spring used data from the GBI to connect Daniel Wade to five rapes committed around metro Atlanta in the 1980s.

Police dubbed the attacks the maintenance man rapes.

"We started getting DNA hits. We noticed that in these, we were getting the same profile for a single individual," said Alton Calhoun, an investigator with the Atlanta Police Department.

The lab houses DNA profiles of suspects and allows investigators to compare those stored samples to evidence collected at the scene of a crime.

"You have some cases that may not have been solved otherwise. You're able to make that link with a potential offender who may have been in prison, who thought he got away with something," Miles said.

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