USA: The victim of a grisly murder was almost decapitated and he was severely beaten but he had a single strand of orange cat hair in one pocket of his jeans. The victim kept cats and so did the murderer. In fact the murderer lived with 11 cats, 8 of which were related to each other and it appears that one of them was a ginger tabby.
It also appears that the victim did not look after a ginger cat and therefore the forensic team were able to exclude the single hair strand as originating from one of the victim’s cats but the hair could not be excluded from coming from one of the cats living with the murderer.
This evidence helped to convict the murderer and it is the first time that cat hair (cat DNA) has helped to convict a person of murder. No doubt it will lead to further cases and it makes you think because we all know how much cat hair gets around the home.
Cat hair is pretty much everywhere in the home of a cat owner and if that cat owner happens to be a murderer or a criminal it would seem quite possible that he will be carrying on his person hairs from one of his cats.
I have simplified the story because we are really talking about quite technical mitochondrial DNA testing. This particular and very interesting case will be outlined in the journal Forensics Science International: Genetics. It appears it will set a precedent for future criminal trials.
Researchers sequenced mitochondrial DNA from the single hair. This sort of DNA is handed down from mothers to their offspring. Apparently, shed hair does not normally have nuclear DNA (another type of DNA). In this case only mitochondrial while DNA was available.
A University of Leicester forensic scientist Jon Wetton with colleagues have created the UK’s first cat DNA database.
In the UK cat hair was used as evidence in a criminal trial last year. Cat DNA is becoming more widely used as admissible evidence in criminal trials. Beware criminals with cats.