AVERY COUNTY, N.C. — The Avery County Sheriff’s Office used a DNA sample from a crime scene at Cannon Hospital to find suspect, who was also wanted for allegedly shooting a man in Florida, Sheriff Kevin Frye said in a news release.
Deputies responded to several vehicle break-ins at the hospital overnight on April 11.
A credit card was among the items stolen and it was used at the Dollar General in Elk Park, Frye said.
The store’s surveillance footage showed the man who used the stolen card.
The following day, the Sheriff’s Office collected a speck of blood from the door of one of the vehicles that were broken into. The blood sample was about the size of a pinhead, Frye said.
The owner of the car said the evidence could not have been her blood.
The Avery County Sheriff’s Office submitted the blood sample to the State Bureau of Investigation for DNA identification and they got a hit, Dahmad Heath.
Investigators learned Heath shot a man in Fort Lauderdale on April 6 and fled. Heath and the shooting victim knew each other. They both have long criminal backgrounds, Frye said.
The victim had life-threatening injuries.
Heath passed through Avery County and that was when he broke into the vehicles at the hospital.
Five days later, authorities were called to a rape at a hotel in Evansville, Indiana, which was where Heath was located. Heath was extradited back to Florida. The Avery County Sheriff's Office was then able to link the crime at the hospital to Heath.
“This is the second crime that the Avery Sheriff’s Office has solved using DNA evidence,” Frye said in the news release. “Even though it took some time for the lab to process the sample we sent them, I am pleased to learn who was breaking into these vehicles. This man may go to prison for a long time for what he did in Florida, and we will hold these charges so if he somehow is released in a reasonable timeframe, we can charge him here with these felonies. It just goes to show you how one never knows who might be passing through. Thank goodness some employee didn’t walk up on him while this was going because there is no doubt that he would have not hesitated to hurt or even kill to assist in his evading capture. We live in a place that is typically very safe from violent crime, but sometimes hardened criminals from other areas pass through.”
The Appalachian Regional Hospital police assisted in the investigation.
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