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A Serial Killer In Chicago? Investigations Delayed By Backlogs In Analyzing DNA

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Some people in Chicago are now demanding answers after CBS 2 Investigator Pam Zekman first reported on dozens of unsolved murders dating back 20 years. Many of those investigations have been delayed by backlogs in analyzing DNA.

A group prayed and read off the names of the 50 victims at a community meeting Wednesday night.

CBS 2 disclosed that those women were strangled, their bodies dumped in abandoned buildings, alleys and even garbage containers. Some were even set on fire.

"I saw the piece that you did and it was shocking," said Beverly Reed Scott, who organized the meeting.

Among the attendees was State Sen. Patricia Van Pelt, who had previously asked police about a possible serial killer.

"And they assured us that there was not any evidence of it," she said. "But with that piece that aired the other night on channel 2, it raises the question again that maybe there is."

As CBS 2 Investigators previously disclosed the head of the Murder Accountability Project believes there is a serial killer based on an algorithm he developed that points to clusters in the city's South Side and West Side where bodies were found with similar patterns in the way they were killed.

"It's essentially a serial killer detector, and for many years our algorithm has been signaling red alert about a series of strangulations in Chicago," said project director Thomas Hargrove.

The cases are unsolved in part because of delays in the state lab that analyzes DNA collected from crime scenes dating back to 2014.

"We have 3700 pieces of DNA evidence that haven't been analyzed and over 700 of them are from murders," Van Pelt said.

And now 3rd Ward Alderman Patricia Dowell said she'll call for city council hearings on the matter.

"I want to support this effort. I think this is just sad that these women have been treated this way," she said.

Dowell said she wants to question Chicago police officials about the unsolved cases.

Meanwhile a public hearing on the DNA evidence delays at the state lab is scheduled for March 15.

The police department has said "at this time" there is no "actionable evidence" of a serial killer involved in these cases.

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