Thomas Kimbell avoided looking at pictures of the children's bodies.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- It's unlikely Thomas Dryfuse killed his wife, two daughters and a niece, despite DNA evidence placing him near the bodies, prosecutors said.
A Pennsylvania State Police forensic scientist testified Tuesday that DNA can be detected via skin cells, hair, perspiration, blood and semen.
It's unclear how Dryfuse's DNA got onto a bloody washcloth found near the bodies of his daughters, Jacqueline, 7, Heather, 4, and a niece, Stephanie Herko, 5, but it didn't necessarily come from his blood, said Beth Ann Giles, a state police DNA expert. Jacqueline's DNA was also found on the washcloth, Giles said.
Thomas H. Kimbell Jr., 40, is on trial in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court, accused of the stabbing deaths of the children and Bonnie Lou Dryfuse, 34.
Found the bodies
Thomas Dryfuse found their bodies just after 3 p.m. June 15, 1994, in the couple's Ambrosia Road trailer, in Pulaski Township. Police said all four had multiple stab wounds.
Kimbell's attorneys contend that Dryfuse, not Kimbell, is the killer.
But prosecutors worked Tuesday to exclude Thomas Dryfuse as the killer through DNA and police testimony.
Richard Matas, a retired Pennsylvania State Police trooper, and Daniel Keith Johnson, a state trooper who collects crime scene evidence, said Dryfuse didn't have a large amount of blood on his hands or clothing shortly after the murders.
"I would assume the [killer] would be quite bloody," Matas said.
Matas detailed through pictures the wounds and large amounts of blood found on the children. They each had at least a dozen stab wounds, he said.
He noted that blood splashed through the bathroom and seeped through the heating vents and into the ducts of the trailer.
Matas said police checked the drains and found no blood, indicating that the killer didn't wash off there after the slayings.
Kimbell shut off a computer screen on the defense table and busied himself looking through files as the pictures of the children were displayed. Jurors saw the photographs on a large computer monitor placed before the jury box, and a smaller computer monitor was on Judge Dominick Motto's desk.
Matas said there was blood on Dryfuse's hand and a small spot on his shirt, which they believe he got when he touched the bodies before calling police. Police said the killer should have had more blood and more signs of a struggle. They suspect Mrs. Dryfuse tried to fight off the killer with a kitchen chair.
Anna Yoder, a state police forensic serologist, said she found a white substance on the chair's leg consistent with material in the trailer's ceiling tile. Prosecutors contend Mrs. Dryfuse, trying to hit the killer with the chair, put it over her head and scraped the chair leg on the ceiling.