Using DNA to solve crimes is pretty much the norm these days. A quick swab of a cigarette butt left at the scene of a crime could easily lead to the name of a suspect. Well, that’s true only if the potential perpetrator’s information—name, date of birth, DNA profile, etc.—has already been entered into “the system.” What if, however, the crook had never before been caught? And, what if the bad guy’s vital information has not now, nor ever, been entered into “the system?” Is it possible to generate a lead based on a twisty-slimy clump of DNA found clinging to a plastic spork inside the garbage of a fast-food dive? You know, DNA that doesn’t match a single CODIS entry.
Until now, the best means to generate a lead from a cold DNA sample (no CODIS/database match/hit) would be to conduct a familial DNA search, hoping to locate a family member of the suspect. Familial DNA searching provides “close” biological matches to the suspect DNA sample—sibling or parent, for example. However, a “known” sample must be on file to generate a lead to a particular person/family member.
Using a new software system called ExactID, law enforcement now has the capability to determine a suspect’s gender, eye and hair color, ethnicity, and to identify relatives and possibly to help pinpoint where those family members reside. *Remember, simply because a certain technology is available, doesn’t mean it has been approved by the courts for use in criminal cases.
Imagine having the ability to sketch a fairly detailed drawing of a suspect based on nothing more than DNA evidence. No eyewitnesses. No fingerprints. No photos. Just a tiny speck of DNA. Yes, the code/blueprint to your personal features are desperately clinging to the back of that mashed-potato-crusted spork you so carelessly tossed into the garbage.
You may have left your heart in San Francisco, but you left your face, gender, and eye and hair color in the trash at KFC.
Here, see for yourself…
Dark, like tree-lined tunnels.
Telephone poles and mailboxes pass quickly.
Handcuffs swing from spotlight handle.
Metal against metal.
Tap, tap, tap.
Hit the apexes.
Feed the wheel.
Don’t cross your hands.
Is it hands at ten and two, or three and nine?
Eyes darting from ditch to ditch, watching for deer.
Moon back-lights trees…
Tall gnarled fingers disappearing into a black sky.
Blue strobe lights transform fog into winking, blinking azure cotton candy.
“Are we close?”
“No, not yet. We was a long ways in the country.”
“Maybe three more miles.”
Radio lights blink in sequence.
Dispatcher speaking in monotone. Stolen car on interstate. Disturbance in West End. Shoplifter at convenience store, Third and Bellview.
“There. Right there. The body’s in the woods to your left. Drug him across the ditch right there. See where the weeds are knocked down?”
Don’t disturb scene.
Gun belt leather creaking.
“Where’s the body?”
“Thought it was here.”
Humidity high. Sweating.
Vests like dense clay around torso.
Cadaver dogs. Noses to ground.
Mosquitoes. Hundreds of mosquitoes.
Sun sends night home for the day. Pushes through tree canopies like translucent yellow wands.
“I found it!”
Man…no, a boy.
Lying in leaves and pine needles.
Eyes closed, mouth open.
Hands bound in back.
Gray duct tape.
Insects in and out of nose and mouth.
Scurrying to and from, like cars traveling the 101.
“Didn’t know gun was loaded. Took it from Dad’s nightstand.”
“It was a joke.
“We just wanted to scare him.”
Four in prison.
Just a joke…