The Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Uncovers Forensic Scientist Misconduct: Hundreds of Cases Under Review, $7.5 Million Retesting Effort Initiated

Jun 17, 11:00 AM

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has released its internal affairs report on Yvonne “Missy” Woods, a former forensic scientist whose work has been pivotal in thousands of criminal cases over nearly three decades. The report reveals significant misconduct, raising concerns about the reliability of her testing and prompting a comprehensive review of her casework.

Key Findings
Anomalies in Woods’ work were first detected in September 2023 during a management-initiated research project. This led to an extensive investigation, including third-party scrutiny by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. The findings revealed that Woods deviated from standard testing protocols, omitted material facts in official records, and altered or omitted some test results from case files. However, the investigation found no evidence of Woods falsifying DNA matches.
“Yvonne ‘Missy’ Woods was able to manipulate the DNA testing system. Ultimately, CBI detected Woods' manipulation and removed her from her position,” the CBI stated in a news release on Wednesday. Woods was placed on administrative leave on October 3, 2023, and retired on November 6, 2023, before the investigation concluded.
Impact and Costs
So far, 654 cases Woods worked on have been questioned, with additional cases from 1994 to 2008 under review. Retesting these DNA samples will cost the state nearly $7.5 million.
“Following the discovery of Woods' actions in manipulating DNA analysis data in 2023, CBI is meticulously reviewing all of its testing protocols,” said CBI Director Chris Schaefer. “Not only is Woods' caseload being reviewed, but we are auditing the results of all current and previous DNA scientists to ensure the integrity of the Lab.”
Historical Concerns and Oversight Failures
The report highlights that concerns about Woods’ work date back to at least 2014, when a coworker questioned her testing of evidence and reported it to a technical leader. In 2018, Woods was accused of data manipulation and temporarily reassigned. Despite these concerns, the issues were not escalated to higher authorities, and Woods was reinstated.
During her 29-year tenure with the CBI, Woods was involved in several high-profile cases in Colorado, including the investigation of basketball player Kobe Bryant on rape accusations and the murder of University of Colorado student Susannah Chase.
“We deeply regret that one of our analysts violated CBI's code of conduct and failed to maintain our high standards,”  Director Chris Schaefer said in the news release. “While the focus of the [Internal Affairs report] addressed Woods’ misconduct, we acknowledge that it took too long to detect ongoing intentional manipulation of our Lab system.”
In response to Woods’ misconduct, the CBI has implemented policy changes to address the vulnerabilities exploited by Woods. An internal review of the results from current and former DNA scientists at CBI-accredited labs statewide is underway to ensure the accuracy and completeness of records. The CBI is also identifying an external vendor to conduct an organizational review to ensure adherence to high standards.
The agency maintains that the internal affairs review did not find evidence of Woods falsifying DNA matches or fabricating DNA profiles, but her actions have significantly impacted the integrity of the lab’s work.
“While the internal affairs review addressed Woods' misconduct, we are in the process of identifying an external vendor to conduct an organizational review to ensure that our forensic services procedures and systems adhere to CBI’s high standards,” said Schaefer.
Ongoing Criminal Investigation
A separate criminal investigation into Woods’ actions is being conducted by the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation. The CBI has stated that to protect the integrity of this ongoing investigation, no further information can be released at this time.
As the investigation and reviews continue, the CBI remains committed to restoring trust in its forensic services and ensuring that all testing protocols meet rigorous standards to prevent future misconduct.
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