Sitting across the desk from a DNA profiler, she told me that I was leaving a trail of cells in her office that would lead back to me, especially if I committed a crime there.
The rapid advancement of science and technology makes DNA evidence
a powerful investigative tool for catching killers and rapists, solving cold cases, identifying missing persons, and clearing the innocent.
I’m investigative reporter Robert Riggs here to take you inside the crime scene tape to look at how DNA plays a central role in the judicial system.
The first use of DNA typing for a criminal investigation occurred in 1986 in England. DNA evidence identified the killer of two 15-year-old girls and cleared an innocent, mentally challenged suspect who had confessed to one of the murders.
Police conducted a DNA dragnet by collecting thousands of samples from men in the village around the crime scenes.
I recommend watching Code of a Killer to learn more. It’s a three-part British police drama television series that tells the true story of the case, and I have placed a link to a story in the Guardian about the case.
DNA analysis has come a long way since then.
To bring us up to date, I asked Dr. Suzanne Bell to take me back to biology and chemistry class to help me understand the advances in science and technology.
Dr. Bell is an Emeritus Professor and Chair of the Department of Forensic and Investigative Sciences at West Virginia University.
She coauthored Understanding Forensic DNA with John M. Butler.
This is the first of a two-part interview series with Dr. Bell.Sign Up To Join Our True Crime Community