Brown County officials tour Wisconsin State Crime Lab, advocate for more funding

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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) -- The 2016 murder of Nicole VanderHeyden made national headlines.

"This was one of those cases that you simply don't see very often where it was a complete stranger," said Brown County District Attorney David Lasee. "Someone that was utterly unknown to all of the parties in this case: unknown to the crime victim, unknown to her family, unknown to law enforcement."

Brown County officials credit the work done in Wisconsin State Crime Labs for developing a DNA profile that led them to her killer.

"Our suspect was not a person that would have been somebody we would have easily located if it wasn't for the work of the State Crime Lab," said Brown County Sheriff Todd Delain.

George Burch is serving a life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole with local officials proud to say justice has been served; however, Attorney General Josh Kaul says the Wisconsin State Crime Labs that helped solve this case cannot keep up with many others happening every day around Wisconsin because of funding.

"If there are lengthy delays in testing that evidence, that means that investigations can be delayed, court dates might have to be moved back, and ultimately, there can be a delay in getting justice in these cases," said Kaul.

The next Department of Justice budget is seeking nearly $1.9 million to address pay gaps and catch up to comparable crime labs in the region.

"We're talking about a high profile case, but the Wisconsin Department of Justice and the State Crime Lab help us out on cases every single day to bring justice to victims throughout the State of Wisconsin, and that's why it's important," said Delain.

The budget also includes 15 new positions to help improve turnaround time.

Attorney General Kaul will tour the Wausau location on Monday.