In December 2007, in the face of DNA evidence pointing to Chad Heins’ innocence, the State Attorney’s Office in Duval County dropped the murder charge against Chad and set him free after almost 14 years in wrongful incarceration; reuniting him with his family in Wisconsin.
Unfortunately, the State still has the opportunity to retry Chad and it appears that they may still have him in their sights. First Coast News in Jacksonville, FL is reporting that investigators for the State are talking to people who used to work at the Sea turtle Inn, where the victim Tina Heins worked, around the time of her murder. In these discussions, the State is asking these individuals to hand over samples of their DNA for comparison to the DNA found at the crime scene.
Now, there are a number of possible interpretations of these actions, some good others not so good:
1. The Good – The State is finally ready to admit that the semen, hair, and blood/skin cells under the victim’s fingernails, which all belong to the same individual, are truly from the perpetrator. If this is the case, then it is clear that the focus of the case has shifted away from Chad Heins as the perpetrator and to some other person, possibly one of the victim’s fellow co-workers.
2. The Not So Good – The State does believe that someone other than Chad, possibly one of the victim’s co-workers, killed Tina Heins and this person’s DNA matches that found at the scene. However, the State wants to invent a conspiracy between this person and Chad to murder the victim; thus being able to again try Chad for murder. Even before the State dropped the charges against Chad, this appeared to be their new angle, so it is one to watch out for.
3. The Bad – The State now believes that the victim was having an affair and the foreign male DNA found on and around her is that of a consensual sexual partner, possibly a hotel co-worker. Of course, there is absolutely no indication that she was having an affair, and this just appears to be another attempt to minimize clealy exculpatory evidence. Considering the State’s track record for finding jailhouse snitches to provide erroneous testimony against Chad in his first trial, it would not be stretch to think that when confronted with evidence that their DNA was at the crime scene (and a possible murder charge), a former hotel co-worker would miraculously morph into the victim’s on-the-side sexual partner. This would surely be convenient.
Whatever the reason is, let’s hope that the State will opt to not retry Chad and find Tina Heins’ true killer.