Police say a parolee from Chicago has been arrested for an apartment burglary in Evanston because he left a cigarette butt behind that contained his DNA.

Police Cmdr. Tom Guenther says that officers investigating the burglary in the 2100 block of Sherman Avenue on Sept. 11, 2010, noticed an odor of cigarette smoke in the apartment, even though none of its occupants smoked.

That led them to a single cigarette butt, which evidence technicians sent to the state police crime lab for testing. Fourteen months later the results came back, indicating a match with the parolee, John Bernard Lathon, 61, of 915 W. Wilson in Chicago.

Officers contacted his parole agent, who arranged a meeting with Lathon, at which he was arrested.

He’s been charged with one felony count of residential burglary and is scheduled to appear in Skokie district court at 9 a.m. Dec. 1.

A laptop computer, two backpacks, a blue pillow case and about $8 in cash were taken in the burglary.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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