Exonerated man talks about DNA testing method that cleared his name

Published: Jul. 26, 2019 at 5:37 PM MDT
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KMVT has ran stories about molecular genealogy this week, and we have another story for about it, talking with a man who was exonerated using it.

Chris Tapp was exonerated this month in the rape and murder of Idaho Falls teenager Angie Dodge in 1996.

He was exonerated when investigators found the alleged killer Brian Leigh Dripps using genetic genealogy technology in May 2019.

A KMVT reporter talked with Tapp over the phone to discuss the changes in DNA, and the technique which has not only exonerated him, but led to arrests in other cases across the country.

“DNA testing has changed a lot in the last 22 and a half years. DNA testing for me has been amazing, and we continue to, you know, over the last 22 years, keep solidifying my innocence through the DNA testing. You know DNA testing cleared me, you know, back in 1997, and it continued to clear me all the way until 2019,” Tapp explained.

He also praised CeCe Moore a Genetic Genealogist from Parabon Labs, who mapped out the family tree to find the real suspected killer.

“In 2015 I believe, the Idaho Innocence Project did the same testing, but they just came to a dead end, but CeCe was able to continue on with the testing, and to actually go all the way with it, which has been an amazing feat and I’m greatly appreciative of her,” Tapp said.

Tapp also said he's hopeful this technology will continue to free or exonerate those who have been wrongfully convicted.

“Just continue to stay strong, don’t lose hope and don’t lose faith. Be able to continue to fight the fight,” Tapp added.

Tapp states he was the 367th person cleared through DNA testing that’s been exonerated, and said that number will continue to grow thanks to this method.

“Every year more and more people are being exonerated because DNA testing has cleared them. And even old cases, where people were either executed or served their sentence, and now DNA testing has been able to exclude them and clear their name, which is the most important thing in this world,” Tapp stated.

Tapp also sympathized with the Dodge family over the pain the arrest of Dripps brought.

“For Carol and Brent and the entire Dodge family, it’s like ripping off a Band-Aid all over again. They went through this once with me, and now they have to live with all the nightmares and all the headaches all over again for them. I feel so bad for them, I mean, truly do I feel bad, and like you said, it can’t bring back Angie. That’s the biggest thing in this world. But at least there’s justice now will be done for her and the Dodge family,” Tapp stated.