FORENSICS 162: WHERE BE DNA
This essay might be of special interest to writers of detective and mystery novels who would like to enrich their stories by providing their readers with a gift of extra details. It might also be of general interest to many other readers, especially those who are CSI and NCIS fans.
Whether or not they deserve it, pit bulls have a bad reputation. Owners of the breed might take some pride in reading about a pit bull mix that gave his all to defend his family when three masked men invaded their home in Barberton, Ohio and robbed a woman and her son. The dog chewed some on one of the intruders and was shot and killed for his effort.
The police were left with no evidence. Catching the perpetrators appeared to be hopeless. but an inventive detective had an idea. Not knowing if his idea would work or not, he used his laptop computer to search the internet for information. He then swabbed the inside of the valiant pet’s mouth and submitted a collection of skin cells to a laboratory for analysis. DNA was found that was not only human it matched that of a criminal whose DNA was on file.
Unfortunately, before the burglar was arrested, he had broken into a home in Akron, Ohio. He shot and wounded a 19-year-old girl and shot and killed a 16-year girl who was four months pregnant.
An event also involving a dog and DNA occurred when a would-be burglar in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England picked the wrong house to burgle. The back door of the house had a cat flap; and the burglar reached through it, apparently trying to open the door. Nobody was home at the time, and he must have felt he could get inside without being noticed. His choice of houses to burgle was definitely a bad one because, in addition to a cat, it was the home of a large Rottweiler named Missy. The police not only found more than enough of the burglar’s blood on the door and its surroundings from which to extract DNA, they also found enough still on Missy’s teeth to enable them to trace the burglar.
A lesson to be learned from the foregoing is that DNA can be found in some unusual places.
Surprisingly, there is actually a canine DNA sample collection kit available. It includes swabs, envelopes to hold used swabs and an envelope in which to hold the envelopes containing the used swabs while being transferred to a laboratory for analysis. It also includes instructions for its use. Many persons use collection kits to have their pet’s DNA analyzed to determine their genetic backgrounds.
PERSONAL NOTE TO READERS:
During the few years that I have been posting these essays, many of you have sent me comments via e-mail. I very much regret that there have not been enough hours for me to respond to every one. I want you to know, however, how much each comment has meant to me. Knowing that you have taken the time to read my pieces and to send me your comments makes the time I spend researching and writing them more than worthwhile. I don’t regard you as fans. Rather, I think of you as friends with a common interest.