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Investigators establish link for Rodgers' blue jumpsuit at multiple locations

Posted at 11:05 AM, Oct 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-16 11:05:12-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Since opening statements in the Jimmy Rodgers murder trial started last week, we've heard a lot from the state about a blue jumpsuit they claim Rodgers wore when he killed Dr. Teresa Sievers.

In that time, they've covered how they found it, where they found it, and how it was the same jumpsuit Rodgers wore for work to avoid harmful chemicals. But for the first time, we're hearing about hard evidence the state says ties it to Teresa's murder.

“Purple and purple-blue-white variegated cotton fibers exhibiting the same microscopic characteristics and optical properties as the purple-blue-white variegated fibers comprising Item 32, which is the coveralls from the roadway were recovered from the following: item 2, FBI laboratory item 2, debris from left front floor of the Hyundai Elantra," said an FBI forensic investigator. “Item 16: tape lift from the front of a dress of Teresa Sievers. Item 12: tape lift from left leg of Teresa Sievers.”

The FBI lab scientist is saying the fibers from the jumpsuit are extremely similar to the fibers on Teresa's body, and in the rental car Wright and Rodgers are accused of driving from Missouri to Bonita Springs.

That FBI analyst could not say those fibers were an exact match, though. But here's the thing: no one could say that.

Here's part of an explainer the FBI showed to jurors in court. It said while fibers cannot be used for positive identification, it's rare to find such similar fibers from two different sources.

In other words, those fibers likely put that blue jumpsuit at the scene of the crime, and inside Rodgers' rental car -- but it's not a 100% lock.

The second FBI analyst then took the stand to talk about DNA matches between hair found on that jumpsuit and Jimmy Rodgers' DNA.

“Results were that the sequence obtained from the item 32-1 hair and from Rodgers were the same in the range obtained that was consistent between both of them, and that it was a 'cannot exclude,' meaning that Rodgers could not have been excluded as the source of the item 32-1 hair."

Like the fibers, it sounds like at the very least, this evidence puts Rodgers in that blue suit.

But you heard that analyst say 'cannot exclude,' not "match." That's because they did a mitochondrial DNA test on the evidence.

This means it could have been Rodgers in that suit, or anyone in his maternal line, like his mother or grandmother.

But, that analyst also says there is also a one in 900 chance that hair could belong someone outside his family.