Thursday, October 30, 2014

Another Disgusting DNA Case: Please Flush!

A quick update to the disgusting DNA report of last March (The Whooper Stopper). Following up on a report from KOAT-TV in Albuquerque, the Associated Press reported that a man helped himself to $250,000 worth of jewelry from a home while the owners were on vacation and neglected to flush whatever he left behind in the toilet. Is there is a lesson to criminalists here: swab toilet seats and handles to catch more considerate burglars as well? Probably not. Cf. Peter Gill, Misleading DNA Evidence: Reasons for Miscarriages of Justice (2014) (discussing the interpretation of touch DNA).

Far more offensive is a case reported by the same TV station in 2011. It seems that a 31-year-old Sunflower Market employee offered a woman what he said was a free yogurt sample. Incredibly, it was his semen. After pleading guilty, he was sentenced to a two-year prison term.

PS: On August 9, 2017, the AP reported yet another case of police flushing out a burglar who didn't. "The suspect 'did his business and didn't flush it' during the October break-in in the city of Thousand Oaks, said Detective Tim Lohman of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office. That ... DNA profile ... matched another profile in a national database ... ." Apparently, the detective does not follow this subcategory of "abandoned DNA" cases, for he said that "it's the first DNA burglary match case he knows of with fecal evidence collected from a toilet."

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