A homicide in Britain has just been solved with cat DNA readings.
The dismembered torso of David Guy was found wrapped in a curtain on a beach. The curtain covering the Hampshire resident had eight cat hairs on it. Those cat hairs were sent to California to have their DNA analyzed. The results were also compared to those of the cat owned by the suspect, David Hilder. A match was found, but prosecutors had to prove that a match between two random cats would be very rare.
Jon Wetton, a University of Leicester geneticist, was then brought in to lead the cat DNA project. After already creating a database of dog DNA at Britain’s Forensic Science Service, Wetton started to create one for cat DNA. “This is the first time cat DNA has been used in a criminal trial in the UK,” Wetton continued, “We now hope to publish the database so it can be used in future crime investigations.”
The UK cat DNA database included test results from 152 cats. From those samples, only three matched those found on the curtain, proving how uncommon the genetic signature was.
The cat hairs weren’t the only thing that helped solve the case. Traces of Guy’s blood was found at Hilder’s residence.
This isn’t the first time cat DNA has been used to solve a case. In Canada in 1994, Shirley Duguay was found dead in a shallow grave. A leather jacket covered with her blood also had some white cat hairs on it. Douglas Beamish, her estranged husband had a white cat. Investigators used the hairs recovered from the jacket and found that they matched the genetic signature of Beamish’s cat. To prove the rarity of a genetic signature match, experts sampled hairs of 20 cats to compare.
Robert Grahn of the University of California at Davis, was involved in the Canadian case. He thinks cats are most helpful with forensic analysis because, “Cats are fastidious groomers, and shed fur can have sufficient genetic material for trace forensic studies.”