, Salem, MA

September 9, 2013

DNA gives city police suspect in '10 robbery

By Marjorie Nesin
Staff Writer

---- — GLOUCESTER — A 3-year-old drop of blood has led city police to crack a breaking and entering case that had left police with no suspects or leads after a Western Avenue resident reported the break in and theft in October 2010.

Police received DNA test results Thursday for drops of blood left behind by the suspect when he allegedly stole $420 in cash and jewelry.

The tests matched the blood to a man with a long rap sheet of similar crimes who once lived at an address just across the road from the Western Avenue home.

“It’s nice when the forensics all come together, because oftentimes, they don’t,” said Police Lt. Joe Fitzgerald.

Because 39-year-old Christian Collazo, the man now suspected of the crime, was convicted of felonies in New York while working under various aliases between 1994 and as recently as May of this year, his DNA is part of the nationwide Combined DNA Index System.

Single blood drops Collazo left behind in the Western Avenue home’s bedroom and kitchen floors and on a door lock matched up to his name in the system, despite his four aliases and variety of birth dates, police said.

Police had originally begun investigating the crime when a woman came home and discovered her door broken, $120 cash missing from a desk drawer near the door and $300 worth of jewelry gone.

The thief pried open the window frame off the door and pulled the window open far enough to put a hand through and unlock the door. Police suspect Collazo cut his hand as he reached through to unlock the door. Fitzgerald said police received the DNA sample a full three years after sending it to the laboratory.

“They kind of prioritize things, and no one was hurt or anything, so it was kind of on the back burner,” Fitzgerald said of the time frame for getting back the lab results.

Police will check through records to see if Collazo, who was convicted of committing several crimes similar to this breaking and entering, all in New York, could be a suspect in any other breaking and entering cases locally.

“We’ll be looking back and seeing if there’s anything that relates to this. He probably was walking from his house, looking for opportunities,” Fitzgerald said.

Police are issuing a warrant for Collazo’s arrest and following up to see if he still lives in the Western Avenue area — though they suspect he does not, given his arrest in New York this year.

A neighbor at the time of the 2010 breaking and entering told police at that time that he heard a bang, then saw a man he described as 5 feet 9 inches tall, about 35 to 40 years old, with reddish hair and a red complexion exit the house through a basement bulkhead.

“I don’t know what he looks like now,” Fitzgerald said, “but the blood’s a match.”