A cigarette butt left in an East Aurora house after a burglary was about all that police had to go on in 2011.
There was some information about a group of men driving away from the Blakeley Road home. There was also relief that children who lived there had not walked in on the burglary.
As he searched the home for clues, Detective Rick Daminski said he found what amounted to Martin Waleszczak’s calling card – a trace of his DNA.
It was gleaned from the filtered end of a half-smoked cigarette and matched Waleszczak’s DNA profile in a state database of DNA from convicted criminals, Daminski said Thursday in announcing the 27-year-old Town of Lockport man’s arrest.
“He was very surprised. However, he admitted to the crime,” Daminski said of a recent interview with Waleszczak when he was locked up at the Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden on an unrelated felony charge of possession of stolen property.
At some point during the burglary on the afternoon of March 24, 2011, Waleszczak allegedly dropped the cigarette, which he had extinguished earlier. Daminski submitted it to the Erie County Central Police Services Crime Laboratory for analysis.
The cigarette was a promising clue since no one in the house smoked. But because of a backlog of cases at the lab, the results were delayed, according to police.
“It is unlikely that this case would have been solved without the DNA,” Daminski said. “It felt great to make an arrest. This is probably the sixth time I’ve made an arrest based on DNA results in the last four years. It’s awesome.”
Waleszczak and his accomplices, the detective added, were spotted driving away from the home just as children who live there were returning home from school.
“The school bus was dropping them off, and thank God the burglars were pulling out,” Daminski said.
Waleszczak, a Buffalo resident at the time, was accused of stealing jewelry, computers and cash. Authorities indicated that a motivation for the break-in might have been to obtain money to purchase drugs.
An investigation is continuing, Daminski said, to learn the identities of the other burglars.
Waleszczak, charged with second-degree burglary and fourth-degree grand larceny, is scheduled to return to East Aurora court in March for further proceedings.