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Non-Human DNA Criminal Cases

Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey will highlight several fascinating cases in which the use of DNA technology has aided in the successful prosecution of poachers, smugglers, rapists and murderers. From protected species to major caviar busts, Mr.

Joshua Thurmond

on 21 April 2014

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Transcript of Non-Human DNA Criminal Cases

Mitch Morrissey
Denver District Attorney
DNA Helps Game Officials Solve Cases
DNA sample taken at crime scene can lead to answers.
The DNA can be from that animal and from no other animal in the world.
Prosecutors' Latest Tool: Animal DNA
DNA Used to Catch Poachers
DNA has proved successful in prosecuting poachers of wild turkeys, turtles, alligators and other illegally hunted species.
DNA to Identify Contraband Animal Products -Valuable Ivory Elk Teeth
An elk was poached.
A warden contacted a man who had elk teeth.
DNA from the teeth matched the poached elk.
Disproving his claim that the teeth were from an elk found already dead.
Moose's DNA Dooms Poacher
A state wildlife officer began investigating after finding a moose skull that had been dug up by a bear.

The moose had been killed and a great deal of trouble went into concealing the crime.
A tip pointed them to a suspect and a search of his storage unit turned up a moose pelt and photos that placed him at the scene.

DNA tests confirmed the pelt belonged to the moose whose skull was found.

The poacher was ordered to pay an $11,391 fine.
DNA Stops a Man Poisoning Protected Animals
Game officials found several protected carnivores poisoned.

DNA from tainted meat found in the animals’ stomachs matched DNA from deer meat found in the suspect’s freezer.
Deer's Genetic Fingerprint Helps
Officers Nab Strange Poacher
Wyoming case - boy meets deer - deer hair on boy - boy gets in trouble for poaching.
DNA Used to Convict Egg Smuggler
When a smuggler was caught with eggs hidden in her bra, she smashed them.

Conventional identification became impossible.

DNA testing of egg membrane identified which protected birds they were from.
DNA Nabs Sea Turtle Egg Smugglers
Rare sea turtle eggs were being sold as aphrodisiacs by restaurants and grocery stores in South Florida.

Selling eggs from an endangered species is a federal crime.

DNA testing was used to track the eggs to Nicaragua enabling authorities to tack on federal smuggling charges.
Dog DNA Used in Investigation and Prosecution of Dog-Fighting
A dog-fighting DNA database helps establish ties among breeders, owners, fighting pit operators and the dog victims themselves.

The real money comes from breeding champion fighting lines.

A champion fighter can bring in up to $50,000 and a promising puppy can have a price tag of $5000.

Fighting-dog breeders pretend that they are just breeding pet dogs for the love of the breed and “don’t know nothin’ ‘bout no fightin’.” The DNA shows otherwise.
DNA Clears Man with Sheep Head
A man was accused of killing and decapitating an endangered big horn sheep.

He claimed that the skull found on his property was one he’d had for years.

DNA from the skull did not match the DNA from the carcass.
DNA Proves a Falcon Theft
A falconer claimed he found a juvenile goshawk.

DNA from the bird was compared to an old DNA profile of a bird from a nest which had been as part of an on-going research project.

The DNA profiles conclusively proved that the birds were one and the same.

The man was found guilty of taking the bird from the wild.
DNA Prevents Cockatoo Swap
A man had received the pet cockatoo as part of a divorce.

When he noticed the bird “had a different personality & was troubled” DNA testing was done.

DNA from a feather of the original bird did not match DNA from the current bird proving that the ex-wife had swapped cockatoos.
DNA Helps Save the Whales
The world's most voracious pirate-whaling market is losing its appetite for endangered whales due to DNA work.

There are whales now swimming which would have otherwise been under bubble-wrap in Japan's marketplace.
Whale meat for sale in Japan was traced back to the whale that was illegally killed in the North Sea.
DNA Used in Major Caviar Busts
A man smuggled 163 pounds of Caspian caviar into the U.S.

DNA testing is used to pinpoint the varieties of caviar.

He was the first U.S. smuggler convicted of violating the sturgeon protection laws.
Something Was Fishy
Three sushi restaurants in Florida were found guilty of selling sailfish in violation of federal law.

DNA testing confirmed that the "tuna” was indeed sailfish.
DNA Absolves a Man of Export Law Violation
Federal law prohibits the export of bear parts.

A man offering to supply bear gall bladders for export to Asia was investigated.

DNA testing showed that the gall bladders for sale were from pigs.
DNA Catches Killer Dog
DNA testing identified a dog that killed one miniature horse and maimed another.

Traces of blood with DNA identical to that of the dead horse were found along the rim of the dog’s water bowl.
DNA Clears Guard Dogs at Zoo
14 animals in a Hungarian zoo were killed in 1 week.

Zoo officials suspected they were the victim of dogfight training.

The zoo guard dogs were suspected.

DNA results confirmed that the killer was a single dog & all the guard dogs were excluded.
DNA Ties Escaped Tiger to Owner
A stray carnivore was believed to be walking in and out of the Chennai Zoo. Authorities closed the facility to the public.

A sample of the beast's fecal matter was DNA tested and identified as a leopard's.

Zoo authorities later trapped a 10-year-old leopard, which lived in the vast forests nearby and visited the zoo when she was in heat.
DNA Helps Capture an Unusual Zoo Visitor
A Bengal tiger escaped from a private facility in New Jersey; the owner claimed the tiger had come from a nearby safari park.

The DNA profile from the tiger matched DNA from a clump of fur found within the perimeter fence of the private facility.

The state was able to close the facility.
DNA Proves the Dog Ate The Will
A hungry terrier is being blamed for eating the last will of a woman who cut her family out of her $750,000 estate.

The remains of the dog-chewed paper were submitted to DNA testing.

Results showed that Daisey had wrapped her chops around the will.
Watch Your Step!

DNA From Dog Feces Used in Triple Homicide Case
He really stepped in it...
DNA from dog feces found on the sidewalk of the house where the killings occurred matched DNA in the dog feces on Stroud’s shoes.

The chance of randomly finding another dog having the same DNA was a one in 10 billion.
DNA Used to Stop Vandal Bears
Park Rangers at Yosemite National Park use DNA to ID bears that break into cars looking for food.

Most bears in the area have previously been captured & blood tests have been taken.

Bear fur from bear-damaged property is sent for DNA analysis.
DNA Used to Stop Deadly Bear Problems
DNA testing is used when bears have injured or killed humans.

When a hiker in Glacier National Park was mauled by a grizzly in 1998, scat found at the scene was genotyped.

The DNA evidence led to a mother and her cub.
Scientists believe they may have found proof of the Abominable Snowman in the form of a tuft of orange-yellow hair found on a tree in Bhutan.

British DNA researchers tested the hair and were unable to identify the DNA.

It is not from a human nor any known animal.

Deployed two dogs as weapons to attack the victim before he repeatedly stabbed and beat to the victim to death.

One dog, who was owned by Johnson, left a blood trail when he and his owner ran away from the scene. When police arrested Johnson, his victim's blood was on his hands and there was also blood from his dog on his body.

Saliva from the other dog was discovered on torn clothing found at the crime scene. DNA from both dogs was used as evidence and a dog DNA database was used to show that the probability of seeing the same DNA in another dog is less than one in a billion.

Johnson was found guilty of murder.
Chrisdian Johnson
DNA From Deerjacking Leads to Marijuana Conviction
DNA found in drag marks at the scene where a deer was illegally shot matched DNA from drag marks in the suspect’s yard.

DNA results were used to obtain a search warrant for the suspect’s house.

Instead of deer meat, investigators found marijuana in the suspect’s freezer.
DNA Used to Prove A Restaurant Was Serving Illegally Caught Salmon
The DNA profile of the fish at the restaurant matched that of the profile of salmon caught by poachers.

The restaurant pleaded guilty, paid an $8,000 fine, and turned over the illegal salmon
DNA Resolves Dognapping Case
The crew of a Chinese fishing vessel was accused of stealing a woman’s dog after she saw the dog on their ship.

After comparing DNA from the dog’s mother & sister, it was proven that the dog was not the stolen dog.
DNA Testing & the Horse Insurance Industry
DNA is used, pre-purchase, to determine what is the lineage of an animal.

DNA ensures that the stallion semen used is from the stallion claimed.

Someone spending over $100,000 for a horse should invest the $100 for a DNA test.
DNA Links an Inhaler Filled With a Prohibited Substance to Race Horses
Oregon Racing Officials suspected that a asthma inhaler was used to administer a prohibited performance enhancement substance to a horse.

DNA testing confirmed the presence of horse DNA on the inhaler and will be used to ID the individual horse in the future.

DNA Exonerates Dogs
One of three Great Danes attacked a boy.

Not sure which dog bit the boy, authorities were going to destroy all three.

DNA from the boy’s clothing matched DNA samples from one dog & the other two dogs were spared.
Animal DNA Leads to a Rape Conviction
A rapist waited for the victim's husband to leave and then broke into her home and attacked her.

The rape occurred in the backyard after the two fought.

DNA testing showed dog feces found on a man's shirt matched DNA from the victim's pet.
Pet Detective Uses DNA To Identify Missing Cat
Pet detectives investigated the disappearance of a cat believed to have been killed by a predator.

DNA from fur collected at the kill site matched DNA from a single whisker found in the cat owner’s home.
DNA from saliva samples found on the 74 year old victim’s clothing matched the dog that mauled her.

The owners were convicted of harboring a vicious animal.
DNA analysis was used to identify a Rottweiler that mauled and killed a 86-year old lady.

The dog escaped a breeder's kennel, and returned unnoticed after the attack.

The breeder faces negligent manslaughter.
DNA Points to Attacker
An 11 year-old boy was mauled by a pack of dogs. He lost his arm & almost died.

DNA analysis of hairs left on the boy during the attack were used to identify the dogs.

The owner was convicted of training the dogs to fight or kill.
The Accused: Sabrina- a Malamute-Collie Mix
The Victims: Innocent Chickens
The Evidence : A Clump of Dog Hair Stuck in the Wire of the Coop.
Why Morning Breath Happens...
mtDNA Excludes A Dog From Having Caused A Traffic Accident
A dog was suspected of having caused a traffic accident.

Three hairs were recovered from the damaged car and subjected to mtDNA testing.

The results excluded the suspect dog.
DNA Paternity Test on Calves Was Used to Catch Cattle Rustlers
35 longhorn cows were stolen from a Louisiana ranch.

3 unbranded longhorn calves were located in Texas.

DNA from these calves proved they were sired by bulls from the Louisiana ranch.
DNA Tests Help Catch Australian Sheep Thief
Forty lambs were rustled from a farm.

The owner found wool carrying his brand in a neighbor's shearing shed.

DNA tests proved the lambs had been bred from rams and ewes on the property from which they were stolen.

The thief was found guilty and fined $5000.
DNA Used to ID Stolen Deer
Goliath, a 28 point 2-year-old whitetail deer, is the largest whitetail ever bred in captivity.

His value was estimated at $500,000 to $1 million and was the object of an extensive search by the FBI and the Pennsylvania State Police and the Game Commission.

Goliath was stolen in 1999 and recovered in 2003 and DNA from shed antlers was compared to a sample from the questioned deer.
Dog’s DNA Used to Solve a Double Homicide
In 1996 a Seattle couple was brutally murdered and their dog, Chief, was shot.

Chief was bleeding but still running around when the police arrived.

Chief’s DNA was identified on the clothes of the two killers.
Cat’s DNA Helps Solve Murder
A woman was murdered and buried in a shallow grave.

Her blood stained jacket was found with several white cat hairs on it.

Her killer lived with his parents and a cat called Snowball.

DNA from the hairs on the jacket matched Snowball.
Dog DNA Helps Solve Rape Attempt
The victim of an attempted rape noticed her dog urinate on the attacker's pickup.

The suspect denied ever being near the victim's house.

The dog's DNA matched the DNA left on the suspect's tire.
Dog Hairs Found on Victim’s Body Provide a DNA Profile
Leanne Tiernan’s body was recovered nine months after she was abducted. Dog hairs found on the body were DNA tested.

The results did not help the case as the dog Taylor owned at the time of Leanne's abduction had died. This was the first time a dog's DNA profile was obtained in a British case.
Dog DNA Convict A Murderer
The suspect & his dog attacked the victim.

The dog was slashed during the knife attack.

Dog blood was found next to the victim.

DNA from the crime scene matched the suspect’s dog.

The suspect was left to explain why his dog was bleeding & why the blood of his dog was next to the victim.
The victim was beaten to death by a gang who burst into his home.

His body was transported in one of the suspects’ van.

DNA from dog hairs found on the victim’s body were linked to dog hairs found in the van.

The DNA matched the suspect’s dog
DNA from Dog Hair used to Convict Four Men of Murder in the UK
DNA From Three Cats Lead to a Murder Conviction
The victim's body was wrapped in a bolt of fabric, partially burned and then buried.

Spring flooding unearthed the body.

Examiners noted animal hairs on the fabric.

MtDNA of the cat hairs, one of which was an uncommon type, could not be excluded to the suspect's three cats.

He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
Dog DNA Helps Get a Murder Conviction
A female body washed up on the shore of a Florida lagoon. She was bound and her head was wrapped in duct tape.

Dog hairs found on the duct tape over her eyes and mouth were DNA tested.

DNA excluded 90% of the pet population as possible sources of the hairs.

Her ex-boyfriend’s dog was part of the remaining 10%.
Misty April Morse
Dog DNA Ties Stolen Box to Murder
A lost dog was found in Iowa City, Ia. And traced to her owner John Helble.

When police entered his residence, he was found shot to death and his gun collection was missing.

Detectives located the guns and a stolen ammunition box in the suspect’s home.

A dog hair was found inside the box.

DNA from the hair sample matched the victim’s dog.
Andy Rich pled guilty to manslaughter and robbery.
John Helble and Keisha
1991 Murder Solved With Both Human & Dog DNA
A 81-year-old man & his terrier were found beaten to death.

Blood was found on jeans & a sweater from the suspect.
DNA on the sweater matched the human victim.

A mixture of DNA on the jeans matched the dog, the suspect & the victim.
Dog Hair from the Crime Scene Matched the Suspect’s Dog
An elderly woman was raped and murdered in her home.

Four dog hairs were recovered at the crime scene.

The suspect was arrested after using the victim's credit card with some of her jewelry in his possession.

DNA from one of the dog hairs matched a dog living where the suspect lived.

He pled guilty to first degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison.
DNA From Dog Hair Used to Convict a Burglar/Rapist
Casper’s barking alerted her owner to an intruder in her bedroom.

Dog hair was later found on the intruder’s pants.

DNA from those hairs matched Casper & the odds that they came from a dog other than Casper were about 1 in 230 million.
Judge Allows Dog mtDNA Tests
During a robbery of a convenience store in Texas, the clerk was severely beaten. Her arms were broken and she required 80 stitches on her head.

MtDNA from dog hair found on a duffel bag left behind by the assailant matched the suspect’s dog.
A Love Triangle Broken
The victim had been one of the men’s girlfriend during a break in his relationship with the other man, a transvestite who went by the name of Eva.

When the men got back together, the victim publicly harassed the one man for his cross-dressing.

Both men murdered the victim at their house.
They wrapped the body in plastic, vacuumed & scrubbed the room where the victim was killed.

They scoured the car trunk in which they transported her corpse to its shallow grave in the New Mexico desert.

A single dog hair was later found on one of the victim's socks.
The DNA from the hair root matched DNA from Hercules, a reddish-brown pit bull mix owned by one of the men.

The DNA from the hair helped send the pair to prison for the victim’s 1998 murder.

“At least they won’t be lonely.”
Hairs Found on Suspect’s Property Traced to Victim’s Dog
In a kidnapping/murder investigation, gray dog hairs were found in defendant’s motor home, a ball of dryer lint found in the trash in his garage, and on a comforter.

DNA from the hairs had many of the same genetic attributes as DNA from the victim’s family dog, a gray Weimaraner named Layla.
Dog DNA Helps Show Where Victim Was Dismembered
Victim was shot & dismembered with a power saw.

Dog hairs found in the bags with her body parts were linked by DNA to dogs kept on the suspect’s used car lot.

The victim’s ex-husband and his parents were convicted of murder.
Dog DNA Used in the Retrial of a 1987 Abduction/Murder Helped Send a Murderer Back to Death Row
10-year-old Amy Schulz was found nude, anally raped, strangled and her throat slashed.

DNA from dog hairs recovered from the her clothes matched the defendant’s dog.

The Illinois Supreme Court overturned Sutherland's conviction.

Governor Ryan granted clemency to all death row inmates. Because Sutherland's new trial was still pending, his sentence was not commuted to life in prison.
Small Fragments of Dog Hair Used to Convict an Arsonist/Murderer
Stephen Treiber killed his 2-year-old daughter by setting fire to his house so he wouldn't have to pay child support and could collect the insurance.

Two fragments of dog hair were found on a threatening letter he had sent himself a month before the fire.
DNA from the hairs matched the defendant’s dog who also died in the fire.

The DNA showed that he had created the letter and planned the fire over a month before he set it.

Stephen Treiber was sentenced to death.
Deer DNA Ties Man to Murder and Theft
After seven years, police tied the defendant to victim’s murder by matching the DNA of deer meat in the defendant's freezer and deer entrails found near the victim's body.

The defendant had threatened to kill victim and a witness saw the defendant head into the area where the victim was hunting and heard gunshots.
Dog Hair Used to Convict the Atlanta Child Killer to Undergo DNA Testing.
In 1982, Wayne Williams was convicted of the murders of two men.

The evidence included hairs found on the victims that were consistent with hair taken from Williams' family dog.

After the trial officials declared him as responsible for 22 other deaths.

DNA testing of the hairs matched William’s dog’s mtDNA profile.
DNA Evidence Used Against Man Accused of Killing Cat
A man was charged with felony animal cruelty after he stabbed his mother-in-law's cat to death with an umbrella.

The cat's DNA was found on the umbrella.

The end of the umbrella cover had punctures from cat bites.
Allele frequency data from thousands of dogs (via ongoing parentage testing for the American Kennel Club) and hundreds of cats have already been established.
Dog & Cat Databases
Development of mtDNA databases in both species is currently under way.
U.S. Government Funds Cat Database
The Federal Government is funding a two-year, $474,000 project to develop a national database of genetic information about cats.

The database will include 50 samples from each breed.

There are about 35 breeds.
Murderer Claimed Blood was Non-Human
A 7 year-old girl was murdered by a man who had been drinking with her father.

When dad passed out, defendant raped her, stabbed her and then dumped her body.

He then returned to her home and continued partying with her father.
He claimed the blood found in his van was from a poached deer.

The DNA matched the girl.

The defendant was convicted & sentenced to death.
RCMP found a homicide victim’s DNA in 3 dead mosquitoes.

This was evidence that the victim was killed in the apartment where the mosquitoes were found.
Finnish Police Use a Mosquito to Solve a Crime
Mounties Use DNA
Police sent a mosquito which had recently sucked blood and was found in a stolen car for DNA analysis.

The DNA found matched a man in the DNA database.

The man denied stealing the car and said he was just hitch-hiking.
[Leech Leads Police to Man That Robbed an Elderly Woman]
A leech was found near a safe at the scene.

Forensic scientists extracted blood and a human DNA profile was produced and put in the DNA database.

Seven years later, there was a hit to Peter Cannon.

Cannon pleaded guilty to aggravated armed robbery.
Pet Bird Collects DNA Evidence in Master's Murder
During a violent struggle in the victim's living room, the pet bird tried to come to the victim's rescue and pecked the killer.

The killer eventually stabbed and killed the bird with a fork.

Blood found on the beak of the cockatoo placed the suspect at the scene of the murder.
Human DNA from Dried Crab Louse Feces Can Be Successfully Typed
Victims of sexual assault may acquire lice that fed on the attackers. It is now possible to link a louse and human host in such situations.
Human & Insect mtDNA Analysis from Maggots
mtDNA testing performed on the contents of a gut of a maggot that had fed on human tissue.

Used to ID both the human upon which the maggot fed and the species of the maggot itself.
Dispels the possibility that a larva collected from a victim had originally come from a non-human source, and therefore any estimate of the larva's age not useful for estimating the victim’s time of death.

Knowing the species of a larva helps in estimating the victim’s time of death.
Are there Big Cats killing deer in the UK?
Extensive DNA tests on two deer carcasses found near Woodchester Park and Dursley have drawn a blank on a big cat but point to a fox instead.
Angelo Monderoy - was found guilty of aggravated animal cruelty, burglary and arson in a case where he took a defenseless cat to an empty apartment and lit it on fire. DNA from a sample of the burnt tissue found in the apartment and DNA from the cat was a positive match.
Angelo Monderoy
Species Identification
DNA is used to identify the species of origin of items of evidence.

Gender Identification

DNA is used to establish an animal’s gender.

Individual Identification

Short tandem repeat (STR) DNA analysis is carried out for purposes of individual identification, assignment of population of origin and parentage determination.

Population Identification
Population identification has proven important in the prosecution of cases where an animal is being claimed as originating from one geographic region but is suspected to have been taken from another.

Parentage/Sibling Analysis

Parentage analysis is performed to determine if animals have been illegally obtained from wild stocks. Sibling Analysis is to determine sibling relationships between a number of animals thought to be from the same litter.
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