CBI investigation outlines years of concerns about forensic scientist accused of manipulating lab results 

AP Photo/Pool, Marty Caivano, File
FILE – Yvonne “Missy” Woods, a former Colorado Bureau of Investigation DNA scientist, points to a DNA chart during Diego Olmos Alcalde’s trial on Monday, June 22, 2009, in Boulder, Colo. The CBI just released key findings of its internal investigation into misconduct by Woods.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation has released the key findings of its internal investigation into misconduct by Yvonne “Missy” Woods, a longtime member of the department’s forensic science team whose work has been cited in thousands of criminal cases over the last three decades.

A review of Woods’ work began in September 2023, after anomalies showed up during a research project initiated by management. The issues prompted a third-party investigation into her previous work, which found that Woods had “deviated from standard testing protocols and cut corners, raising concerns about the reliability of her testing.”

Alleged manipulations included omitting facts in official criminal justice records and altering or omitting some test results from case files. CBI did not find any evidence of Woods falsifying DNA matches.

So far, 654 cases that Woods worked on have been thrown into question. Further cases from 1994 to 2008 are also being investigated.  It will cost the state almost $7.5 million to retest DNA samples that Woods previously worked on. 

CBI’s investigation outlined previous concerns over the integrity of Woods’ work that stretch back to at least a decade ago. In 2014, a coworker reported concerns about Woods’ testing of evidence to a “technical leader” at the CBI. Then in 2018, Woods was accused of data manipulation and suspended from duties. She was later reinstated after the matter was not escalated to higher-ups.

CBI Director Chris Schaefer said investigations into Woods’ work, and why the agency’s protocols failed to prevent manipulation, are ongoing. 

“While the focus of the [Internal Affairs report] addressed Woods’ misconduct, we acknowledge that it took too long to detect ongoing intentional manipulation of our Lab system,” said Schaefer. “We are in the process of identifying an external vendor to conduct an organizational review to ensure that our forensic services procedures and systems adhere to CBI’s high standards.” 

During her 29-year tenure with the CBI, Woods was involved in several high-profile cases in Colorado, including the investigation of basketball player Kobe Bryant on rape accusations and the murder of University of Colorado student Susannah Chase

Woods, who retired from CBI in November, is also being criminally investigated by the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation.