Friday, January 29, 2010

Sharron's Story written by Michelle McNamara

Sharron's Story

Thirty years later, Yvonne Prior and her twin daughters, Moreen and Doreen, tracked the beekeeper down. He wasn’t a beekeeper anymore; he’d long since left behind the small field where he kept his beehives. But the Priors remembered enough vague details about him to find a possible email address. It took a while. Messages bounced back and were forwarded. Finally, a message appeared in their inbox.

“I’m your man,” it said.

He agreed to meet them at a restaurant. He brought his wife. What were the Priors hoping for? Recollections. Clues. He had always been “the beekeeper” to them, an essential but abstract figure in the most important event of their lives, and here he was, polite and solemn and real. He searched his memory and answered their many questions the best he could.

A couple of hours later the meeting was winding down, the silences between sentences growing longer.

“Would you take us there?” Yvonne asked suddenly. She had not been able to visit the place when it happened. Could not. Would not.

The man didn’t owe them anything. He’d already done more than most people would. Still, he didn’t hesitate.

“Of course,” he said.

The area was different. The woods were gone. A truck covers factory had gone up nearby. The small piece of land where the man had once kept his bees was now vacant.

He took them straight to the spot. Yvonne knew from newspaper photographs and maps she’d pored over that he was exactly right about the location. She marveled at his accuracy after all this time.

“It really affected him,” his wife said quietly.

A friend had called him that cold Tuesday morning. Did he know the gate to his beehives was open? That evening he walked over to check out the muddy field.

Yvonne stared at the spot. So many things had changed over the years. Suspects. Buildings. Faces. Memories.

One thing had not changed: the pain.

“Like an amputation of my soul,” Yvonne says...

please read on...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Murderer caught by his son's DNA

Murderer caught by his son's DNA

A brute who raped and killed a teenager 26 years ago was jailed yesterday...trapped by his son's DNA.

Twisted Paul Hutchinson, 50, was caught when his son gave a sample after being arrested for a car offence.

Police found it was a partial match to evidence left after the 1983 death of Colette Aram, 16.

Father-of-four Hutchinson admitted the murder 25 years after the case became the first killing to appear on BBC1's Crimewatch.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Flaux said the attack was "violent, twisted and perverted" and subjected Colette to "unimaginable terror and degradation".

He added: "It was a terrible act which has torn Colette's family apart and left a community haunted. "The killing was clearly premeditated.

You concealed your guilt for more than 25 years and only pleaded guilty when the evidence became overwhelming."

Hutchinson showed no signs of emotion and gazed at the packed gallery where Colette's family sat.

Her mother Jacqui Kirby, 62, now re-married and living in Greece, was comforted by exhusband Tony Aram, 68, and Colette's brother Mark, 45.

Outside Nottingham crown court she said: "We have spent 26 years wondering who murdered Colette. You could see Hutchinson has no remorse. There are still a lot of questions only he can answer."

Colette vanished in Keyworth, Notts, in October 1983 as she made the mile walk to the home of her boyfriend.

Her body was found in a field next day. She had been dragged at knifepoint into her killer's stolen car before being strangled, raped and beaten.

Another DNA case

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Male DNA test yields clues in Texas criminal cases

An advanced type of DNA testing that is male-specific is helping Texas law enforcement solve sexual assaults and other crimes that previously netted inconclusive results.

New Technology!

The Y-chromosome detection analysis is able to extend the evidence collection time from 48 hours on up to 120 hours, experts say.

It separates male DNA profiles from those belonging to females and hones in on tiny bits of saliva, skin cells, semen or other biological evidence.

Although the test has existed for at least eight years, some of the state's larger law enforcement crime labs have only recently become equipped to conduct their own analysis as the courts have become more accepting of newer kinds of technology.

"It's not a common kind of test you use all the time, it takes a considerable amount of work to get those systems up," said John Planz, associate director of the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification in Fort Worth, which has been working to refine the testing kits.

The Texas Department of Public Safety crime lab, which handles forensic testing for a various agencies across the state, including the El Paso Police Department, started conducting its own male-specific DNA tests in the middle of last year, DPS spokesman Tom Vinger said.

The Harris County Medical Examiner's Office biology lab also began using the test around the same time. Since June, it has obtained positive results in 20 sexual assault cases — most involving children — though none of those cases have gone to trial yet.

"Everyone recognizes (this) testing will work when traditional testing doesn't," Dr. Roger Kahn, the Harris County medical examiner's forensic biology director, told the Houston Chronicle. "The number of successes is up. Even we're surprised at some of these."

In the case of a 9-year-old girl who told authorities that a male relative molested her while she slept, there were no witnesses and no semen recovered. Harris County's supervisory forensic investigator Dan Morgan said testing using traditional DNA tests yielded inconclusive results. But testing using the new analysis found a partial DNA profile on swabs and portions of the girl's clothing that matched the suspect's.

Like a black light that causes white clothes and teeth to glow in the dark, the technology in the new test essentially makes the female DNA profile invisible and amplifies any male DNA, no matter how small, that may not have been seen before.

The male-specific DNA tests can also be used to solve crimes involving people of the opposite sex, such as burglaries or homicides that do not involve rape.

But the advanced tests only work in cases where a suspect has given a DNA sample to investigators looking at a specific crime, Kahn said.

All in DUE Time!