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Cases Overview

It is not known how often law enforcement agencies have turned to FDP as part of an attempt to identify an unknown suspect or victim; some reports claim that the method has been used in several hundred cases since it was developed in the early 2000s. To create awareness of this technology and to stimulate scholarship, we have begun to document on this site as many of these cases as possible.

All the accounts below are based on publicly-available sources, including newspaper accounts and academic articles, although not all the sources used are freely available online. We note when our account is based on only one source.

One of the goals of the Forensic DNA Ethics Project is to collect information on the use of FDP in law enforcement settings. If you know of additional cases in which FDP has been used or considered, or of additional information relevant to the use of FDP in a particular case discussed below, please let us know by using the Contribute box on any page.

 

The murder of Sally Anne Bowman
Place: Greater London, England

 Crime: The rape and murder of 18 year old aspiring model Sally Anne Bowman in 2005.

Why authorities sought FDP testing: Bowman’s murder, just yards outside her front door, sparked one of the Metropolitan Police Service’s most extensive murder investigations ever.  The police identified over 22,000 men of interest and tested the DNA of 1770 men who voluntarily submitted samples.  None of these samples matched the DNA found at the murder scene.  The Forensic Science Service, a government lab, conducted FDP testing (known in Britain as ethnic inference analysis) as well as familial searching, but neither method produced helpful information.

 Lab that conducted FDP analysis: The Forensic Science Service.

 Outcome: In 2006 a match was made between the murder scene DNA and that of a man arrested for fighting.  Mark Dixie, who had been linked to other vicious sexual attacks, was arrested days later and convicted in 2008.

Note:  The only source we have been able to locate for the claim that FDP testing was used in the investigation of Bowman’s murder is the Forensic Science Service’s website.

 
The Walker Family Murders
Place: Osprey, FL

 Crime: The murders of Clifford and Christine Walker (who was also raped) and their young children in December 1959.

Why authorities sought FDP testing: FDP testing was sought in 2005 into these unsolved murders; it is not clear whether DNAPrint, the company which was to conduct the FDP testing, was initially contacted by investigators or by the Sarasota, FL Herald-Tribune, as part of a special investigation into the murders conducted by the paper.

 Lab that conducted FDP analysis: DNAPrint, a Florida-based commerical, for-profit laboratory.

 Outcome: Seeking to solve the Walker family murders before his retirement in 2007, a Sarasota police officer related to the Walkers turned to DNA analysis.  The state crime laboratory had managed to recover a sample of what they believed to be the suspect’s DNA in 2004, and the Sarasota police planned to seek DNA samples from the original suspects in an attempt to find a match.  Given the backlog at the state lab, local company DNAPrint agreed in 2005 to conduct these analyses.  As reported by the Herald-Tribune, DNAPrint also wanted to conduct FDP testing on a DNA sample drawn from Christine’s underwear, but the evidence was too contaminated by mold for usable DNA to be recovered.

 Note: The only source for the claim that FDP testing was successfully used in the investigation of the Walker Family murders is a curriculum vita for Tony Frudakis, former Chief Scientific Officer of DNAPrint, that is publicly available online.

 
The murder of Kathleen Aiello-Loreck
Place: Concord, CA

 Crime: The murder of Kathleen Aiello-Loreck in 2003 along a well-traveled walking trail.

Why authorities sought FDP testing: Unknown; see Note below.

 Lab that conducted FDP analysis: DNAPrint, a Florida-based commerical, for-profit laboratory.

 Outcome: Police initially identified as a suspect John Kahler, a mentally ill man who resembled the police sketch of the suspect and whose scent was tracked from the murder scene to his home.  Kahler committed suicide the day after Aiello-Loreck’s murder, heightening police suspicion.  However, when the DNA from the case was analyzed, it did not match Kahler’s.  When the DNA recovered from a cigarette butt found near the scene of Aiello-Loreck’s murder was matched to that recovered from Aiello-Loreck’s body, the police returned to witness statements to seek to identify the smoker.  These witness statements led them to Robert Ward Frazier, a drifter then in custody in Indiana.  Authorities obtained a warrant for a DNA sample from Frazier, which matched that found on Aiello-Loreck.  Arrested in September 2003, Frazier was convicted in 2006.

 Note: The only source for the claim that FDP testing was used in the investigation of Aiello-Loreck’s murder that we have been able to locate is a press release from DNAPrint.  We can find no mention of FDP testing in any of the news accounts which describe the investigation.

 
The murder of Susannah Chase
Place: Boulder, Colorado

Crime: Rape and murder of college student Susanah Chase in 1997.

Why authorities sought FDP testing: With no leads seven years after the student's murder, police sought testing in 2004 to determine the ethnic makeup of the DNA recovered from Chase's body.

Lab that conducted FDP analysis: DNAPrint, a Florida-based commerical, for-profit laboratory.

Outcome: The testing indicated that the DNA might be that of a Hispanic or Native American man. When announcing the results of the test in 2004, Boulder police noted that the DNA might not be that of Chase's assailant, but that they hoped the test results would jog memories and generate new leads. In 2008, a Chilean-born man, Diego Olmos-Alcalde, was arrested and charged with Chase's murder. Olmos-Alcalde had been convicted of kidnapping in Wyoming in 2001, but his DNA profile was not entered in the national DNA database until January 2008, a delay caused in part by a backlog in Wyoming of thousands of unanalyzed DNA profiles. After Olmos-Alcade's DNA profile was added, a match was soon made between his DNA profile and the profile of suspect in the Chase case; Olmos-Alcalde was arrested in February 2008 and convicted in 2009.

 
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